New center links farm co-ops and Ohio State

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COLUMBUS — A $645,000 donation to Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences has established a new agribusiness cooperative center.

Gift of money

The gift comes from five founding partners: CHS Inc., CHS Foundation, CoBank, Farm Credit Mid-America, United Producers, Inc., Luckey Farmers and Ag Credit. The funding creates The Center for Cooperative, Business and Community Education and Development.

“We’re very excited about this cooperative business model and what it can offer the state of Ohio and what it can offer to Ohio State University,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives.
The Washington, D.C.-based organization represents the nation’s cooperatives and other farm-owned enterprises.

“This is the model going forward for that connection between our co-ops and our research and education community,” he said.

Housed in the college’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics, the center is charged with improving economic conditions for the state’s farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs by teaching business principles, collaborative leadership development and shared research.

Education

The new center will jump-start educational efforts to support research, scholarships and programs, said Bruce McPheron, dean and vice-president, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.

“The center itself really has come about because of a few key partners who stepped up early to be a part of this,” McPheron said. “That commitment is really allowing us to move forward today.”

New director

Returning to Ohio State to serve as the center’s new director and as the college’s Farm Income Enhancement Chair is Ani L. Katchova.

An alumna of the college, Katchova has been serving as an associate professor at the University of Kentucky, where her successes merited an award by the governor there as a Kentucky Colonel, an honorary title bestowed upon those who exhibit outstanding community service to that commonwealth.

Set to start in January, Katchova plans to spend her first three months in the position “setting the stage for the future and establishing the cooperative center and its presence.”

Last summer, she met with other university cooperative center directors and discussed how best to establish such programs.

“Let’s look for opportunities to collaborate, find those projects of mutual interest, especially those projects that have student involvement,” she said.

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