Cooperative helps farmers buy more for less

Published 12:06 pm Sunday, April 2, 2023

A local store is helping local, and not-so-local, farmers save money and keep their farms running.

The Farmer’s Cooperative is located at 182 Smi Way with a variety of products to sell. Its main products are feed, seed and fertilizers but the operation also carries supplies farmers might need, including tools, hardware, building materials, pet supplies and much more.

According to Sam Goin who runs the store, the inventory changes as he keeps an ear out for what people may need. During the early days of COVID-19, the store started carrying toilet paper, paper towels and soap, since many were having a hard time finding these supplies. 

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“I never expected that we would start carrying toilet paper and paper towels in the store, but we have to change with the customer’s needs,” said Goin. 

What is a farmer’s cooperative?

This cooperative started in 1947 when a group of local farmers came together to buy and share resources. Buying supplies like feed, seed and fertilizer can be much cheaper when purchased in large quantities. Being part of a cooperative, the store buys large bulk orders at a lower and locked-in price. Then the store sells the items at a discounted rate.

“It gives more buying power,” said Goin. “Members get the best value for the product.”

Joining the cooperative is very simple. Those interested can come to the store and pay $1 worth of stock. At the end of the year, the store’s bookkeeper pays the members the portion of their stock which can be around 1 to 2% back to the farmers. 

Since its start in 1947, the cooperative has grown to over 3,000 members. According to Goin, most members are in a 50-mile radius of Farmville. However, there are some members who come from much further. One member is from Smithfield and drops by for supplies whenever he goes up to Lynchburg to drop off his livestock. Another member comes up from North Carolina to buy items in bulk since there aren’t many cooperatives around. 

“We deal with everyone here from small operations to those with thousands of acres,” said Goin.