Co-op Directors Join Opposition to Proposed CHS Bylaw Changes
The North Dakota Cooperative Directors’ Association (NDCDA) joined the rising voice of opposition to proposed CHS, Inc. bylaw changes that would allow non-farmers to be voting members of the nation’s leading farmer-owned cooperative.
“Our members passionately believe that control of CHS should remain in the hands of producers,” said NDCDA President Denise Brown. “We believe there are other avenues to address bylaws compliance issues, rather than giving consumers and other co-ops the ability to vote when they aren’t even engaged in agriculture.”
CHS, Inc. is owned and governed by agricultural cooperatives in communities throughout the region and by individual farmers who do business with CHS. The NDCDA, comprised of directors of 60 co-op boards in the state, recently voted to oppose bylaw changes that will be voted on Dec. 3 at the CHS annual meeting in Minneapolis.
Primarily at issue is a requirement that any director who serves on a CHS affiliated board be an agricultural producer. “It appears that only a handful of cooperatives in North Dakota have made the local decision to allow non-farmers to serve on their boards,” said Brown. “Those decisions were not meant to violate company bylaws and can be easily remedied. There is no reason to overreact and throw the baby out with the bathwater.”
Should the governance of CHS be changed, Brown said NDCDA members are concerned that the focus will shift away from agriculture and service to the very cooperatives that have built the regional co-op. She said NDCDA is encouraging co-op members in other states to vote no, as well.
North Dakota Farmers Union, the state’s largest farm organization and advocate for farmer-owned cooperatives, and the North Dakota Cooperative Managers’ Association are also opposed to the proposed bylaw changes.
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