Agricultural Production Cooperative

Agricultural Production Cooperative


a cooperative labor organization that unites rural producers for the joint working of the land, use of machinery, or output of farm products based on partial or complete socialization of the means of production and labor in agriculture. The socialization of the means of production and labor is the feature distinguishing the agricultural production cooperative from other types of cooperative organizations, either those assisting agricultural production or those completely unrelated to it.

Marketing, supply, and credit cooperatives of rural producers had developed extensively before agricultural production cooperatives appeared. Historically, the development of agricultural production cooperatives has gone from simple (lower) forms to more complex forms and to the highest form. The lower forms of the agricultural production cooperative have usually been distinguished by the partial socialization of labor in all or certain stages of the process of economic reproduction in agriculture, ordinarily in the most labour-intensive production operations; more complex forms are known for partial socialization of labor and the means of production, and the highest form for full collectivization of labor and ownership of the basic means of production such as land, machinery, the productive livestock, and farm structures.

The agricultural production cooperative may encompass all spheres of productive activity of its member peasant households or just one sphere—for example, crop farming or animal husbandry. It may also unite the efforts of the peasants in a narrower production area—for example, grain production in crop farming or dairy production in animal husbandry. Along with pure production cooperatives there are cooperatives that combine production functions with supply-marketing, credit, and production-service functions and with processing agricultural output.

Under capitalism. Agricultural producer cooperatives appeared in the developed capitalist countries in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their number has grown significantly since World War II, but nonetheless they still constitute a small percentage of the total cooperative agricultural organizations. The unstable position of the small farmer in the competitive struggle, the production inefficiency of small farms, and a desire to adapt the individual farm with its extremely limited capabilities to the requirements of the scientific and technological revolution are forcing some farmers to join together not just in the sphere of distribution but also in the production sphere directly. The most common forms of agricultural production cooperatives have been the simplest ones, and most of the cooperatives are small, with two to ten households. Often agricultural production cooperatives are made up of farmers who are relatives.

Agricultural production cooperatives became relatively wide-spread in France, West Germany, Italy, Spain, and Japan in the late 1960’s. In France agricultural production cooperatives generally take the form of partnerships for joint economic management and cooperatives for joint purchase and use of farm machinery. In a large majority of the joint management partnerships the entire farm of a member is collectivized; in the others only the land is. In 1970 there were 2,400 joint management partnerships in France with an area of about 200,000 hectares. In addition to these types, France also has a form of agricultural production cooperative in which the means of production are not collectivized but rather the machinery belonging to one member of the cooperative is used for the work cycle (harvesting, mowing, ensilaging, and the like) at the farms of other members; these farmers pay rates determined by the cooperative charter. In Spain agricultural production cooperatives of the joint management type developed in the mid-1960’s. In 1968 there were 1,200 of them, with a total area of 180,000 hectares. In Japan cooperatives, or joint management groups, have been formed for raising rice, fattening hogs, raising poultry, and so on. The 600 such cooperatives in 1960 had grown by 1966 to more than 5,000.

The agricultural production cooperatives under capitalism involve different social strata of the countryside, giving rise to clashes of antagonistic economic interests in relation to such questions as the participation of members in production and incomes and the distribution of liability for damage.

Besides conflict among the members themselves, there are also conflicts in some cooperatives between the members and hired workers (more than half of the joint management partnerships in France in 1970 used hired labor). In the age of state-monopoly capitalism, cooperative production in agriculture often turns from a means of protecting the farmers into an appendage of monopoly capital and into a means to economic domination by the monopolies in agriculture. Nevertheless, the Communist and

Table 1. Share of agricultural production cooperatives in the overall agriculture of the members of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) in 1970
(in percentages)
 BulgariaCzechoslovakiaEast Germany1HungaryMongoliaPolandRumaniaUSSR
1 Of the third, highest type only
Area of agricultural land. . . . . . . . . .68.055.772.067.692.91.253.937.5
Average annual number of persons employed. . . . . . . . . .58.760.572.275.592.10.982.064.2
Fixed productive assets. . . . . . . . . .56.747.962.61.423.642.4
Gross output. . . . . . . . . .62.653.245.851.71.142.340.0
State procurements and purchases of grain crops (except corn). . . . . . . . . .81.064.579.379.811.41.371.051.9
meat. . . . . . . . . .44.750.062.31.320.633.3
milk. . . . . . . . . .59.753.443.346.20.628.736.5
eggs. . . . . . . . . .36.629.515.

workers’ parties of the capitalist countries support cooperative production in agriculture and help the small and middle peasants and farmers who are members of cooperatives in their struggle to give the cooperative movement a democratic and antimonopolistic character.

Under socialism. Under the dictatorship of the proletariat, the socialist transformation of private small-scale commodity production through the establishment of cooperatives constitutes the essence of V. I. Lenin’s cooperative plan. The plan envisioned the progression from the lowest, simplest forms in the sphere of distribution to the highest form, in production. The concrete embodiment of the plan in the USSR and the other socialist countries is the system of production cooperatives of peasants and other small producers.

In the USSR the development of agricultural production cooperatives in various forms—from machine and seed-raising cooperatives and societies for the joint cultivation of the land to the agricultural artel (the kolkhoz)—was carried out with the nationalization of the land.

A special feature of the development of agricultural production cooperatives in the other socialist countries (with the exception of Mongolia, where the land is also nationalized) is the preservation of small-scale private ownership of the land by the peasants. As production cooperation was developing, three basic forms of agricultural production cooperatives took shape. They were distinguished by the degree of socialization of the means of production and by the methods of distributing output. The first are cooperatives for joint cultivation of the land (with a large variety of specific forms); in the second, a more developed form, public ownership of the basic means of production with the exception of land is combined with distribution of incomes by land shares; in the third, the land and basic means of production are completely socialized (as in the kolkhozes of the USSR).

In cooperatives of the first type the land is worked jointly, and income is distributed depending on the amount and quality of land belonging to the particular member of the cooperative. In cooperatives of the second type the bulk of income is distributed according to the quantity and quality of labor expended, with the remainder being distributed depending on the amount and quality of land turned over to the cooperative. In cooperatives of the third type all income is distributed entirely in accord with the quantity and quality of labor expended. In most socialist countries the process of transition to the higher forms of agricultural production cooperatives has been completed. In Bulgaria, Rumania, Czechoslovakia, Mongolia, and North Korea, uniform production cooperatives of the third type have been established. In a number of other countries, in particular East Germany, all three forms exist and the third type prevails. In the Democratic Republic of Vietnam more than 50 percent of the cooperatives are those of the highest type. In Hungary distribution of part of income according to land shares still exists in some cooperatives; alongside cooperatives of the second type, which prevail in the cooperative sector of agriculture, there are specialized cooperatives and production-cooperative groups (in the agricultural production cooperatives, up to 25 percent of the income going for personal consumption is allocated to pay for land, whereas in the production cooperative groups it is as high as 50 percent).

In most of the socialist countries, production cooperatives occupy the primary position in agricultural production (see Table 1). In Poland and Yugoslavia the small individual peasant landholding continues to be the basic form of organization of agricultural production. In the Polish People’s Republic, however, supply-marketing, credit, and other types of cooperatives serving agricultural production have been extensively developed. They account for more than 50 percent of retail trade, 75 percent of the marketing of agricultural output, and two-thirds of the value of services and output of small-scale production (as of the early 1970’s).

An economic description of the level of development of agricultural production cooperatives in several socialist countries is given in Table 2.

Agricultural production cooperatives consist of production subdivisions (brigades, sections, and the like) that are assigned land, machinery, tools, and other means of production.

The development and improvement of agricultural production cooperatives occur not only in moving from lower to higher forms but also at the highest form of cooperation. Many of the features typical of agricultural production cooperatives in the earlier stages of development disappear in building up the cooperatives (the sphere of in-kind relationships in the distribution area becomes narrower, the workday as a form of labor record-keeping and measure of distribution is dropped, and so on). New processes arise that characterize the current stage of development of cooperatives and the economic relations of the cooperative

Table 2. Characteristics of production cooperatives in the agriculture of the COMECON countries in 1970
 BulgariaCzechoslovakiaEast GermanyHungaryMongoliaPolandRumaniaUSSR
Number of agricultural production cooperatives. . . . . . . . . .7446,2705,5242,8052721,0964,62633,558
Farmsteads (units) included in each cooperative. . . . . . . . . .99.334910.1747435
Collectivized croplands (hectares) per agricultural cooperative. . . . . . . . . .3,6374796441,1444121651,3662,961
Cattle per cooperative. . . . . . . . . .1,0144056513393,2231024641,258
Hogs per cooperative. . . . . . . . . .1,4574941,115607549.1349891
Sheep per cooperative. . . . . . . . . .5,55270.118154038,72924.01,1461,633

with the state. In the late 1960’s a number of measures were passed in the non-Soviet socialist countries to expand the economic independence of agricultural production cooperatives and improve the system of state purchases and material incentives. For example, a system of economic stimulation for fulfillment and overfulfillment of plans for sale of agricultural output to the state has been instituted and is being improved, and the system of mutually advantageous economic relations between cooperatives and other sectors of the national economy is being developed.

New features in the development of the cooperative sector’s production relationships and a manifestation of the trend toward a higher level of socialization of production and labor are the development of intercooperative and state-cooperative production links, the linking of cooperative enterprises with the processing industry and the formation of agrarian-industrial associations and complexes, and the growing contribution of the labor of workers in the state sector, as embodied in the means of production, to producing and shaping the productive assets of the agricultural production cooperatives.

In developing countries. Agricultural cooperatives in most of the developing countries are concentrated in distribution. But in the mid-1960’s agricultural production cooperatives developed in a number of countries—for example, India, Indonesia, Burma, Algeria, and Egypt. Engaged primarily in supplying production services to the peasants and performing farm jobs jointly, they are characterized by common ownership of the means of production. In the late 1960’s in Algeria, agricultural production cooperatives owned about one-third of the land being worked. The cooperative sector in agriculture is significant in Egypt and several other countries. In some of them the development of the agricultural production cooperatives has been directly influenced by the state. For example, in Egypt the fellahin to whom the state gave land expropriated from feudal lords or newly brought into cultivation were obligated to join production cooperatives. Agricultural production cooperatives are assigned great importance in tropical Africa, where the preservation of communal ownership of the land and the rural population’s customs of collective work can promote their development.

Relying on the state sector in the economy, the governments of the newly independent nations are trying to help agricultural production cooperatives overcome the organizational and financial difficulties typical of the initial period. Agricultural production cooperatives are developing most extensively in those countries where democratic agrarian reforms are being carried out. In a number of the developing countries the solutions to problems of independent economic development are tied to the agricultural production cooperative as a form of large-scale agricultural production.


Lenin, V. I. “O kooperatsii.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 45.
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Osad’ko, M. P. Kooperativnaia forma sel’skokhoziaistvennogo proizvodstva pri sotsializme. Moscow, 1963.
Trapeznikov, S. P. Istoricheskii opyt KPSS v osushchestvlenii leninskogo kooperativnogo plana. Moscow, 1965.
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Starodubrovskaia, V. N. Kooperativnaia sobstvennost’ v sel’skom khoziaistve sotsialisticheskikh stran. Moscow, 1970.


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