Overview of China Farmers’ Cooperatives
With the implementation of Farmers’ Cooperatives Law of P. R. China in 2007, farmers’ cooperatives in China entered a stage of normal and quick development in accordance with the law. The development of farmers’ cooperatives is playing an important role in developing modern agriculture, increasing farmers’ income, and building new countryside.
1. Steady and fast increase of quantities
Especially from 2007, the quantity of farmers’ cooperatives has been steadily increased and the member scale of it also steadily extended. Up until to the end of 2010, the number of cooperatives which registered in the Industrial and Commerce administration was 379,100, which is 9.3 times the number in 2007; the actual members were 29 million households, accounting for approximately 10% of the total households in the country, 8 million more than that at the end of 2009.
2. Farmers becoming the subject of cooperation
Over 90% of cooperatives were held by farmers. The cooperatives held by farmers, enterprises, institutions, social organizations and other subjects account for 90.6%, 4.8%, 1.6%, 0.5% and 2.5%, respectively. College student village cadres, veterans, peasant workers returning hometown and retired cadres nationwide also played an active role in holding cooperatives, and becoming a new source of leaders of cooperatives. Farmers also covered more than 97% of cooperative members. Farmers, town dwellers and corporate members account for 97.2%, 2.2%, and 0.6%, respectively of cooperative members. The members within villages and townships are 49.7% and 34.1%, respectively, those in cities and counties are 20%, and those above cities are 1.2%.
3. Basically cover all agricultural industries
The cooperatives are mainly in the traditional plant production, fish breeding and poultry raising, in addition to other agricultural industries. The allocation in plant production, stock raising, fishing, forestry, service industry, craft industry and other industries is 47.3%, 31.2%, 4.5%, 4.1%, 6.3%, 0.5% and 6.1%, respectively. The farmers living in the marginal areas of the big cities such Beijing and Xi’an who are engaged in the industries like hand knitting and farm hotels also actively organize cooperatives and have increased their incomes thereby. The plant production cooperatives which are engaged in vegetables and fruits are 28.35% and 27.08%, respectively; the stock raising cooperatives which deal in pigs and poultry are 41.51% and 35.77%, respectively.
4. Flexible and diversified management mechanisms
The structure of property right of cooperatives is diversified. Farmers are the major populations contributing to cooperative establishment. The amount of contribution by farmer members accounts for 58.8% of the total amount of contribution in cooperatives. However, in quite a number of areas large scale farmer households or corporations play a leading role in investment in cooperatives and farmer members contribute relatively small amount of capital. The organization structure is flexible. Apart from the necessary establishment of board chairperson and general meeting of members, the organization structure is set by farmers according to real conditions. The decision making methods are diversified. The methods such as one member one vote, one member one vote plus extra voting rights and decision made by the board chairperson coexist according to the willing of farmers. In general, members can be divided into nuclear members, general members and marginal members according to the extent to which the members take part in the activities of cooperatives.
5. Conducting of business related to agriculture
The cooperatives mainly conduct business like integrated service in production and selling, technology, information service, purchase service, storage service, transportation and sale service and processing service. The cooperatives providing integrated service in production and selling and information and technology account for 67.5% and 14.6% of all cooperatives, respectively.
6. Gradual optimization of laws, regulations and policy environment
On October 31st 2006, Farmers’ Cooperatives Law of P. R. China was officially enacted and to be implemented on July 1st, 2007, which had great practical significance and profound historical significance in leading and promoting the development of farmers’ cooperatives. Further with the rules provided by “one law one rule, one article one system”, all of these laws and regulations create a favorable system environment for the development of farmers’ cooperatives, and indicate that farmers’ cooperatives have stepped into a new stage in which they function in the market as a legal person.
Chinese government has always been putting a high value on the development of farmers’ cooperatives. The central government puts forward clarified requirements for the development of farmers’ cooperatives many times. Since the beginning of the 21 century, confronted with the new situation, new tasks and new requirements in the new development stage of farmers’ cooperatives, the central government has made a series of new plans for the development of farmers’ cooperatives. Definite requirements have been made for promoting the development of farmers’ cooperatives by the Third and Fifth Plenary Sessions of the Sixteenth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, and the central No. 3 document in 2003, several central No. 1 documents since 2004, the Third Plenary Sessions of the Seventeenth Central Committee of the Communist Party of China also make a series of concrete policies and measures in tax preference, financial support etc for the development of farmers’ cooperatives.