Covid-19: Updates from the co-op movement, 8 April

Global updates: Impact on US cattle market co-op, and how to help credit unions and community energy build resilience

Global

USA

An editorial in sector news site Credit Union Journal has warned that federal regulator the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) is not doing enough to ensure credit unions survive the Covid-19 crisis.

B. Dan Berger, president and CEO of the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions (NAFCU) , wrote: “It is critical that regulators take immediate action to ensure credit unions receive capital relief and reduce the examination burden.”

Credit unions across the country leapt into action at the start of the crisis, he said with skip-a-pay programmes, fee waivers, low-interest lending options and more.

“But credit unions are not-for-profit co-operatives that operate like a small business; the capacity at which they operate is at times contingent on the conditions around them,” he warned. “A pandemic that is shaping up to be one of the worst we have seen in over a century and that is shaking the stock market to its core will undoubtedly present challenges to even the largest of institutions. Every tool we have in the toolbox must be used to help credit unions blunt the impact of the recession we’re beginning to enter. There is certainly no Plan B to rely on.”

Mr Berger said the NCUA has made some amendments – such as, for the first time in history, allowing credit unions to hold virtual AGMs online – to help the sector but more is needed. He calls for easing of leverage ratios, additional capital flexibility, and to reduce daily admin to allow credit unions to serve customers with reduced staff levels.

“Credit unions have worked hard to keep serving their members the best they can – in good times and bad. The outbreak is already testing their bandwidth, as CUs work to ensure the safety and soundness of their institutions and members. Knowing we have a long road ahead, we must look to capital and examination relief if we expect to help credit unions and their staff from facing untenable circumstances,” he said.

USA

Equity Cooperative Livestock, which operates livestock auctions in several states, has suspended sales at its market in Marion, Wisconsin in response to the Covid-19 situation.

It will suspend all activities and will not hold sales on Mondays or Saturdays. Additionally, no private treaty on Wednesdays. Equity sincerely appreciates the support received from our producers, buyers, truckers and employees.

“This decision is a further effect to reduce exposure to COVID-19 across our markets amid our country’s current health crisis,” said chief operating officer Tod Fleming “Because of our importance in the food chain, Equity will continue to operate and host sales at our other markets. However, during this time of health crisis, only active buyers and employees are allowed in our facilities.”

Market manager Timm Gildernick, will be working with producers to help find trucking and alternative markets livestock can go during this temporary shut down.  

The co-op added: “As this pandemic continues to affect the normalcy of our daily lives as well as our organisations, Equity continues to work together with others involved who are critical to the food supply chain.”

Europe

Dirk Vansintjan, president of the European Federation of Renewable Energy Cooperatives, REScoop.eu, says co-operative models will be a crucial tool in building stability and resilience into the world’s infrastructure after Covid-19 – with with world facing further disruption from climate change.

Writing for Euractiv.com, he said: “The current situation is putting our society to a vital test: Are we equipped to develop responses to this crisis that will ensure the long-term stability of our societies?

“I strongly believe that the answer can be yes. But this can only be the case if we ensure that the measures taken make our economies and societies more resilient in the long term. Whilst it is crucial to develop solutions that will revitalise our economy following this crisis in the short and medium term, we must not lose sight of other existing threats to our economies and our citizens.”

He added: “Several experts have pointed out over the past weeks that human health and the state of the environment are inextricably linked – be it through the increased exposure to wildlife, or the threat air pollution poses to our health.

“Corona crisis aside, we know that climate change is one of the most severe and urgent systemic threats to our global community.”

He said action by the EU to strengthen community energy projects – for instance, by giving them access to larger funding sources – would help to build resilience into the system.

“By investing in and operating clean energy technologies and measures, energy communities have been known to strengthen the social and economic welfare of their community whilst taking measures to reduce CO2 emissions and preserve the environment.”

REScoop has also been highlighting the work of its member co-ops to reduce electricity prices to help customers through the crisis.

In this article


Join the Conversation