Why Are Agricultural Co-ops Declining in Saskatchewan?

Yawen Luo

Agricultural co-operatives have deep roots in Saskatchewan. Since the early part of the twentieth century, farmers have used the co-operative model to organize agricultural activities. The last two decades, however, have seen significant changes in agricultural co-ops, including the disappearance of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool, once the largest agricultural co-op in Canada. While research has focused on the failure of the large co-ops, little attention has been directed to smaller agricultural co-ops and the environment in which they operate.

Recent research at the Centre for the Study of Co-operative shows that the number of agricultural co-ops in Saskatchewan has fallen from 307 in 2001 to 178 in 2015, a decline of 42 percent. Why has this occurred? Continue reading

Power Struggle: Rural Electrification in Alberta

Danielle Potter

Source: Website of the Rocky Rural Electrification Association (http://www.rockyrea.com/about/history)

 

 

In his Fredeen Scholarship seminar, Eric Neudorf outlined how Alberta’s private power companies in the 1940s were able to change the regulatory landscape in a way that profoundly disadvantaged the rural electrical associations, with the result that today they are having difficulty surviving. How did this happen? Continue reading

“Citizen Energy”: Social Innovation, Public Policy, and the German Energy Transformation

Based on a lecture by Brett Fairbairn
Co-hosted by the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, University of Saskatchewan, 2 November 2016

wind-turbine

Wind turbine under construction

Like many countries, Canada is looking for green-energy alternatives in response to climate change. Germany presents an interesting case study that Canada could use. The “Energy Transformation” (Energiewende) in Germany has increased renewable energy to more than 30 percent of consumption to date and aims for 60 percent by 2050. The country has accomplished this thanks to innovative legislation coupled with the response of civil society and the business sector. A key mechanism was the creation of nearly nine hundred energy co-operatives in less than a decade.

Brett Fairbairn outlined the strategy in his lecture titled “Citizen Energy: Social Innovation, Public Policy, and the German Energy Transformation.” In partnership with Markus Hanisch from the Berlin Institute of Co-operative Studies, Brett examined the role of community-level social entrepreneurship and innovation in achieving green-energy targets.  Continue reading