Cooperative Principles

What Is A Co-Op?

Seven Principles Of Cooperatives 

Our cooperative abides by the Rochdale Principles of Cooperation, which was established in Rochdale, England in 1844. It has been our framework since the beginning of our establishment in 1928. Our formation came after the need for petroleum products during the mechanization of agriculture. The business principles of cooperatives have not changed over the years. What has changed is how the cooperative has adapted and expanded to meet the needs of its members and its industry. 


1st Principle: Voluntary and Open Membership

Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination. 

2nd Principle: Democratic Member Control

Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote), and co-operatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.

3rd Principle: Member Economic Participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any of the following purposes: developing their co-operative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

4th Principle: Autonomy and Independence

Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

5th Principle: Education, Training and Information

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public – particularly young people and opinion leaders – about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

6th Principle: Co-Operation Among Co-Operatives

Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the Co-operative Movement by working together through local, national, regional and international structures.

7th Principle: Concern for Community

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.

The business principles have been constant, and membership continues to be an advantage because of the economic benefit. The co-op has routinely given out over a million dollars of economic reward. Belgrade Co-op currently covers a trade area of approximately 2,450 square miles servicing agricultural and home/business heating customers. The foundation is the same as the beginning with a group of customers banding together to supply goods and services. Every membership is valued and important for the future growth and development of the cooperation.