Washington Agricultural Cooperative Development

Following is an outline of agricultural cooperative development in Washington State. This information was gleaned from WSCFC records and other cooperative-related material stored in the Pacific Northwest Agricultural Archives maintained at Washington State University. We encourage readers to offer additions or corrections to this timeline; information may be sent to WSCFC, 625 Delphi Road NW, Olympia, WA 98502 or e-mailed to: wscfc@wscfc.org.


Skamakawa Farmers Creamery Association, the state’s first cooperative, was formed to assist Southwest Washington dairy farmers in marketing their milk.

Puyallup and Sumner Fruit Growers Association was formed to can and sell members’ produce.

Yakima County Horticultural Union, the state’s first tree fruit marketing cooperative, was formed.

Washington Cooperative Farmers Association, which later became Western Farmers Association, was organized to provide egg and poultry marketing services and farm supplies to its members.

The state’s first grain cooperative, Washington Wheat Growers Association, was formed under the patronage of Farmers Union.

RCW 24.32, the state’s first Agricultural Marketing Act, passed the Legislature and became law.

The federal Capper-Volstead Act, which gave farmers the ability to organize and set commodity prices without transgressing federal anti-trust laws.

The Spokane Flower Growers Association organized and began offering marketing services to its members.

Washington State Agricultural Council, the state’s first association of cooperatives, was organized.

Washington State Cooperative Council, WSCFC’s predecessor organization, organized. It was housed at the Western Washington Experiment Station at Puyallup. Founding members, which are still active or have successor organizations, include:

Pacific Supply Cooperative, Western Farmers Association, Grange Cooperative Wholesale, which have become part of Cenex.

North Pacific Grain Growers, now Harvest States Cooperatives.

Skookum, Inc., now merged with Blue Bird, Inc., a tree fruit cooperative in Wenatchee.

Yakima Fruit Growers, which has become Snokist Growers.

Northwest Dairymen’s Association.

Blue Star Growers, a tree fruit cooperative in Cashmere.

Peshastin Fruit Growers, located in Peshastin.

Chief Tonasket Growers, a tree fruit cooperative in Tonasket.

More than 70 purchasing (farm supply) cooperatives had formed, most of which were affiiliated with Grange Supply Wholesale.

Washington State Cooperative Council opened an office and changed its name to Washington State Council of Farmer Cooperatives (WSCFC), to mirror the name of the National Council of Farmer cooperatives.

Cooperatives’ successes could be measured in numbers. In Washington, there were: 17,500 dairy cooperative members, 21 dairy cooperatives and 41 fruit cooperatives.

Marketing cooperatives in Washington number 125 and 75 purchasing (farm supply) cooperatives exist. Total business volume of ag cooperatives was estimated at $280 million; gross farm income equaled $645 million.

WSCFC incorporated.

Gross sales of farmer cooperatives equaled $2.2 billion, whereas farm gate income was $3.3 billion.

WSCFC celebrates 50 years of service to the state’s agricultural cooperatives.

The state’s two statutes governing cooperatives were combined and modernized by the Legislature in the form of RCW 23.86.

Cooperative numbers changed dramatically from 1950, with only two dairy cooperatives, 31 farm supply companies, 25 grain cooperatives, nine regional cooperatives, 23 fruit and vegetable cooperatives and four service cooperatives headquartered in Washington. Cooperatives’ business volume in 1995 was $3.3 billion.