1. What is the Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council (TACC)?
The Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council (TACC) is a voluntary, statewide, industry association created by Texas cooperatives in 1934 to serve as a collective voice, catalyst and clearinghouse on all co-op activities in the state. Its home is in Austin, Texas — location of the State Capitol.
2. TACC has always been perceived by some as a government-type agency headquartered in Austin. Is this true?
No. TACC was created by cooperatives to represent them in one common voice across Texas. TACC is owned by its member-cooperatives throughout the state by virtue of paying dues for its existence. In recent times, dues have represented 50 percent of the total operating budget and the other 50 percent has come from membership services and educational meetings offered by TACC.
In addition, TACC is governed by a board of directors of approximately 150 members and a 17-member executive committee, the board meets three times year and the executive committee meets four times year. The board hires the executive vice president and that person hires the remaining staff and manages the Council.
3. How does TACC differ from such names as CoBank, Plains Cotton Cooperative Association, Triangle Cooperative Service Company, PYCO Industries and Rio Grande Valley Sugar Growers? Most people regard these as organizations providing a service to the Texas cooperative industry.
These and other similar companies listed are but a handful of significant commodity-specific cooperatives operating in Texas. Unlike those listed, TACC is not a cooperative. It is a 501(c)(6) organization that is not cooperatively-chartered or operated. It is chartered as a non-profit corporation or trade association representing cooperatives.
4. It is generally regarded “in the country” that TACC’s predominant role is a legislative and regulatory watchdog for Texas cooperatives. Is this accurate?
Legislative and regulatory duties are an essential and successful part of TACC’s program of work, however, cooperative manager and director education — being that it is such a specialized training offered by only a few — is also a significant responsibility of TACC.
Legislatively, TACC has:
Built goodwill among state agency personnel and legislative staffs;
Defended the cooperative way of doing business;
Its own co-op political action committee that has participated in as many as 88 campaign races annually;
Been influential in getting cooperative leadership appointed to state agency posts;
Been called upon for advice from time to time as proposed policy is being written by state agencies.
In an educational sense, TACC conducts:
At least three co-op director development programs;
A cooperative leadership conference in Austin;
A joint cooperative meeting;
Coordinates two cooperative auditor conferences;
A cooperative managers’ conference in Ruidoso, New Mexico;
A cooperative manager and director conference in South Texas;
A cooperative new managers conference in Ruidoso, New Mexico, and;
Numerous other specially-designed meetings.
TACC also provides a variety of member services such as facilitating co-op strategic plans, working with co-op boards on special issues, co-op mergers and countless administrative and operational assistance requests. TACC is also regarded as having one of the most informative and well read agricultural newsletters in the state.
5. I am always hearing of this big cooperative manager and director conference every March in Texas. What is this meeting all about?
Just like any co-op, TACC is required to hold an annual meeting and it does so each mid-March to coincide with Spring Break. The Joint Cooperative Meeting, as it is called, has always been held in various Texas cities at this time so as to make the conference a “family affair.” Therefore, spouses and children have always been a large part of the meeting and attendance. The ingredient that has attracted crowds in excess of 450 or more each year is the strong educational nature of the three-day meeting, plus the fun and relaxation that is planned for families. TACC non-member cooperatives frequently attend this meeting and they are encouraged to do so.
6. Many times I see the name TACC associated alongside other agricultural commodity group names like the Texas Farm Bureau, Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA), the Texas Grain and Feed Association (TGFA), and the Texas Cotton Ginners’ Association (TCGA). Why is this? What’s the difference?
Just as TACC is a trade association or voice for a specialized segment of rural Texas, so are many others, some of which are listed above. TACC represents cooperatives, TSCRA represents cattle owners. TGFA represents feed manufacturers and grain handlers, and TCGA represents cooperative and independent cotton gins. In each case, these statewide trade associations, along with about 50 other agricultural commodity groups, represent a specialized area or voice for the agribusiness industry and perform similar functions to their memberships as TACC does.
7. How do co-ops join TACC, and what does it cost?
Interested co-ops can join the organization by expressing an interest to TACC. Thereafter, a one-page form will be sent for completion. This form, along with a dues check payable to the Texas Agricultural Cooperative Council, should then be sent to the Council. Formal adoption as a member of TACC is not completed until it is approved by the governing body of the Council. Dues vary depending on the type of cooperative. Cotton gins pay ten cents a bale; supply and grain cooperatives pay on capacity and sales. Farm Credit entities pay $575 while rural electric, telephone, water supply, and associate members pay $350. The minimum dues contribution is $500.
8. Why should co-ops join TACC?
The real question is “What is the cost of not joining TACC?” Data suggests that those businesses that do not stay current and fresh with their respective industry trends by joining a trade association are far more likely to fail in the long-term because they lose out on how the business environment is changing. As one business practitioner put it, “If the rate of change in an organization is less than the rate of change on the outside, the end is in sight.” A trade association’s preamble is to do those things and provide those services that help their respective industry grow and remain viable. By many accounts, TACC is one of the best at fulfilling this mission.
9. Our organization is not a member of TACC because my co-op needs are already being met by another statewide agricultural commodity or trade association. So why does my co-op need to join TACC too?
Those people involved with co-ops know the industry is very specialized; especially in terms of tax, accounting, education and legal issues. As such, TACC provides insight, educational programs, references and advice on operating as a cooperative that few other organizations can provide.
Many co-ops hold memberships in three or four commodity groups. Co-ops with this type insight should feel rather insulated and protected from unforeseen government regulations and other business surprises in this ever-changing competitive environment.
Some co-ops have dual memberships with several commodity groups because they fully realize that each trade association has a particular strength over another similar group. For instance, TACC has always been regarded has having a good track record with co-op education programs, favorable relationships with regulatory state agencies, trucking issues, agricultural management placement, facilitating co-op strategic plans and providing a first-rate newsletter. Other trade associations have their particular strengths as well.
10. TACC was born in the mid-1930s and my co-op was chartered years ago as well. I’ve never been a member of TACC so why should I join now? I don’t have a whole lot of money to throw around.
TACC is not so much interested in an organization money as they are in being a service-provider that allows individual co-ops to remain viable in order that they can continue to be an extension of a patrons farming and ranching operation. However, to provide this service, all cooperatives in the state are asked to pay their equitable proportion to support TACC activities and responsibilities. After all, whether a co-op is a member of TACC or not, the Council does provide a substantial voice and service on behalf of ALL cooperatives.
While other trade associations struggle with maintaining membership and keeping them involved, TACC has enjoyed not only rapid growth in recent years, but also has one of the most highly-motivated, positive-oriented, and “salt of the earth” leadership pools among its ranks in the entire state.