A return of the threshing ring? Motivations, benefits and challenges of machinery and labor sharing arrangements
Cooperative approaches provide an alternative for small- and medium-sized producers to obtain the efficiencies of large farming operations and remain competitive in an increasingly concentrated agricultural industry. This article examines the motivation and effectiveness of equipment and labor sharing arrangements in the Midwestern US. Case study evidence shows that in addition to cost savings, access to skilled, seasonal labor is an important motivation for farm-level cooperation. Key factors identified for successful cooperative agreements include compatibility of operations and members' willingness to communicate and adapt. Sharing resources is found to improve farm profitability, efficiency and farmers' quality of life.