TEE CONSUMER COOPERATIVE MOVEMENT
This is a subject about which much Is being said but very little is
known. In attempting to uncover reliable statistics with reference to this
movement in the United States, one is confronted by an insuperable task; at
least in the limited time which has been available since the assignment was
made. The author has been impressed by the difficulty of securing from any
reliable public source the information needed for a discussion of this kind.
The very paucity of information has unmistakable significance. In the first
place, it suggests the chaotic nature of the movement which makes the gathering
of statistics difficult; in the second place, it seems to suggest the lack of
relative significance of the total business of consumers' cooperatives so fer
as volume is concerned.
Government sources of information are confined to the Farm Credit Administration -which attempts to bring together through its Cooperative Division
information concerning cooperative purchasing of farm supplies, and the Department of,Labor which gathers information through the Bureau of Labor Statistics
in the general field of consumers' cooperative activities. This attempt, therefore, to characterize the movement in this country is based upon rather inadequate information but at the same time, information which is significant in
indicating some of the trends.
Repeated attempts to establish consumers' cooperative enterprises in
the United States along the line set by the Rochdale pioneers have met with
indifferent success. The economic depression following the Civil War saw the
National Grange organized. The establishment of cooperative stores was
•^Director, Utah Agricultural Experiment Station, Logan, Utah