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The Alpaca Fiber Cooperative of North America, Inc. (AFCNA) is an agricultural cooperative owned and operated by alpaca farmers seeking the benefits of economies of scale to add value to their raw product and strengthen their marketing power. Since 1998, AFCNA has been helping alpaca farmers by collecting, grading and adding value to the fiber produced by it’s member farms and by selling high quality alpaca fiber end products under it’s brand America’s Alpaca.
There are over 3,000 agricultural cooperatives in the United States whose members include a majority of our nation’s 2 million farmers and ranchers. Welch’s, Sunkist, and OceanSpray are well-known examples of agricultural cooperatives whose added value farm products are household brand names. Cooperatives differ from other businesses because they are member owned and operated for the mutual benefit of members. Farmer cooperatives exist for the mutual benefit of their farmer members with earnings returned on a patronage basis.
For example, a farmer member who accounts for 10 percent of the volume of raw product delivered to the cooperative would receive 10 percent of the net earnings derived from the handling, processing, marketing and sale of that product or related products. Such patronage dividends help boost the income of farmers directly or by reducing the effective cost of the goods and services provided.
Participants in a cooperative generally join by purchasing a membership interest – a share of ownership – in the cooperative either from the cooperative itself or from another member. Being farmer-owned and controlled, agricultural cooperatives are governed by a board of directors elected by their farmer members.
Farmer cooperatives are farmers helping farmers. AFCNA invites all alpaca fiber producers who share our vision and goal of growing and sustaining the North American alpaca community to join our growing cooperative.