Profit margins in rural America are usually too low for Wall Street to spend much time on Main Street. For a lot of ag businesses—such as farm retailers, ethanol companies, and even commodity processors—this means private investors are hard to come by, leaving only farmers to bankroll essential businesses.

The farmer-owned cooperatives profiled here—and the jobs they support-would not be in existence if growers hadn't literally bet the farm on their success.

A Business Model to Believe In
To most of us, the word "cooperative" means to be agreeable or accommodating. But to thousands of Americans who work in rural America, the word "cooperative" means the difference between an industry left in the dust or one given the chance to thrive. And to the U.S. economy, it means jobs and sustained economic activity.
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Comfortable Competition
The competition has always been fierce between the Raiders and the Aggies-an age-old home state rivalry that was in full force when the two teams faced off in Lubbock on October 8. But while Tech and A&M duked it out on the field, two former rivals of the clothing industry had made amends on the sidelines.
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It Pays to Cooperate
One of the most successful innovations to come from the agriculture industry is not a fancy piece of machinery or a pest-proof form of biotech crop, but a business model made for and run by America's farmers.
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Stocking the Shelves
PCCA—a farmer-owned, cotton marketing, warehousing, denim manufacturing, and jean production cooperative headquartered in Lubbock, Texas—has been serving farmers since 1953, and today is one of the largest handlers of cotton in the United States, marketing millions of bales each year. Its unique "field to fashion" philosophy means that the organization literally sees a cotton seed through the entire process—planting, harvesting, ginning, spinning into yarn and cloth—that ends with a finished garment, ready for marketing and selling.
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Counting on Cooperatives
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported in August that farm profits would drop by more than 30 percent this year. It's bad news for an industry already plagued with high production costs and falling prices.
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Home Sweet Home
Most of us have two lives—a work life and a family life. But as one sugar company has shown, when business grows out of family, work might just end up being a home.
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Sour Profits Lead to Farmer Ownership in Sugar Business
During the late 1800s, a wealthy investor named Henry Oxnard was busy cultivating America into an agricultural powerhouse. He's best known for his namesake Oxnard, Calif.—a city of nearly 200,000 people that boasts two Naval bases and is widely considered to be the world's strawberry and lima bean capital.
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