Dear NFC Members,
The NFC board of directors met on Saturday, January 5, to discuss the future of your cooperative. We discussed results from the producer survey and responses from members. Overall, we can report that the level of support has been very positive.
The vision and objectives outlined below represent the feelings of the board, and a reflection of the comments we have received. It is our sense that NFC customers want a close connection with those small/family producers who take time to provide quality products. As a whole, our membership does not seem to be as interested in large producers, or those whose approach is to harvest food quickly and/or just throw it in a bag with a label. In effect, we want the best food money can buy, with attention to quality practices, nutrients, animal welfare, local economics, and the Nebraska “Good Life.” We want to hear if you disagree with these understandings or proposed actions. Members can respond in the “Leave a Reply” box below (comments will be made public unless requested otherwise).
Summarizing that into a few points, the reasons for our actions going forward are to…
- Be a reliable source for consistently high-quality food
- Expand quality food diversity and availability for NFC shoppers
- Be a proponent for Nebraska family farms and other providers of quality food
- Simplify marketing and transport challenges for small producers
- Establish/restore the reputation of NFC as a respected brand in the marketplace
Almost immediately, we plan to…
- Begin to fill key cooperative tasks with member volunteers (customers and producers)
- Open the next order cycle in February, for planned delivery on February 20
- Temporarily suspend the accounts of members who have not responded about being involved and who have not made other arrangements
- Set producer and customer margins (markdown/markup) to match actual transportation costs
- Eliminate the delivery charge, which will be folded into the calculated margins
- Waive annual membership fees for customers who are volunteering to help with NFC tasks
In the short term, we plan to…
- Continue to enlist members and producers to perform small NFC tasks
- Establish producer standards (what sort of producers/products do we want?)
- Establish tight product packaging standards to ensure quality during shipping
- Regularly adjust product margins to meet the actual cost of running the cooperative
In the longer term, we plan to…
- Revisit our membership fees and requirements to ensure they make sense
- Investigate transitioning from a cooperative to a non-profit corporation
- Make payments to reduce outstanding debt
With these changes, it is our belief that a clear focus and attention to meaningful quality will bring back many customers, as well as inspire new customers. We need to stop being all things to all people. We are shaking things up considerably, and it may be a while before we find a new equilibrium. However, we believe that the concerted efforts of all our caring members can make NFC a better organization than we have yet seen.
Transition is a challenge for any organization. As we work through these changes, we expect producers and product options will be reduced for a while. As a result, cycle volumes might be limited and we may need to limit ordering frequency to optimize transportation cost. These are all trade-offs. In effect, we might expect our cooperative to contract in size – possibly even as far as when it started in 2006. Hopefully, the contraction will not be that extreme, but we want to be realistic with our expectations.
you for your involvement.
We look forward to serving and working with you all.
The NFC Board