From eggs and milk to the electricity that powers your home, cooperatives play a big role in your everyday life. And this year, everyone in the U.S. will get to know co-ops a little better.

In July 2011, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution designating 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. The measure — building off similar action by the United Nations General Assembly — recognizes the vital role cooperatives play in the economic and social well-being of the United States.

Following are some fun facts about co-ops.

The nation’s 900-plus electric co-ops:

– Serve about 42 million people in 47 states — that’s 18 million businesses, homes, schools, churches, farms, irrigation systems, and other establishments in 2,500 of 3,141 counties

– Employ 70,000

– Retire more than $500 million in capital credits annually

– Own assets worth $130 billion

– Own and maintain 2.5 million miles, or 42 percent, of the nation’s electric distribution lines, covering three-quarters of the nation’s land mass

Around the world, co-ops:

– Boast nearly 1 billion members in more than 90 countries.

– Account for 80 percent to 99 percent of milk production in New Zealand, Norway, and the United States

– Generate 100 million jobs

– Close to half of all residents of Finland and Singapore are co-op members; 33 percent in Canada, Honduras, New Zealand, and Norway, and 25 percent in Germany, Malaysia, and the United States

– Under the umbrella of the World Council of Credit Unions, 49,000 credit unions serve 177 million members in 96 countries

To learn more about cooperatives, visit

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