Copenhagen 1952


Part II



Milch cows Pigs
1871808,000 442,000
18931,011,000 829,000

And not only did the number of cows increase, but the average yield of butter per cow increased from 110 pounds in 1880 to 200 pounds at the end of the century.

Shipping, commerce and industry from 1880 made good progress parallel with the agricultural production. Thus it became possible to absorb the whole growth of the population in the urban trades and to let the agricultural population have their share of the improved standard of living by the strongly increasing productivity per person.

It was fortunate for Denmark that when most European countries tried to stem the fall of prices by high import duties on agricultural products, the English market remained open. With the growth of the industrial population the English farmers found it more profitable to sell whole milk directly to the towns than to make butter; and the Danish farmers found a market for their increased output.

Thus, external as well as domestic factors helped the development of Danish agriculture to a hitherto unknown degree.

Of the internal factors the most important was the spirit of self-help in the farmers, expressed through their cooperative production societies. These made it possible to combine the advantages of small-scale intensive farming with those of large­scale machinery, and they relieved the farmer of business responsibilities, permitting him to give full attention to the production of crops and animals. The typical features of modern agriculture in Denmark, i. e., the importation and production of raw material for feed, and the exportation of finished products in the form of butter, bacon, and eggs, were closely linked with the cooperative movement.

The Cooperative Dairy Societies.

The branch of animal husbandry which was first developed in Denmark was butter and cheese making. In 1880, L. C. Nielsen, a Danish engineer, invented the mechanical cream separator [in Denmark called the Centrifuge] capable of continuous operation. This invention opened the way to dairying on a large scale, and, as we shall see, facilitated the application of cooperative methods. Before the invention of the centrifuge it was only the large estates in Denmark that were able to produce butter in quantities and of a quality to meet the demands of the English market. Now the opportunity came to the medium­sized farmers and the small­holders. In the seventies the influence of the Royal Agricultural College had begun to make itself felt, and through the tireless efforts of two of its professors, N.J. Fjord and Th. R. Segelcke, a new interest in scientific dairying and feeding was far-reaching. For a hundred years the Royal Agricultural Society had urged the improvement of livestock, and local agricultural societies now carried the message to the farmers.

As early as 1866 Dean Hans Christian Sonne had adapted the principles of the Rochdale pioneers to the first Danish cooperative store, in the little town of Thisted in Jutland. This society was intended to serve the needs of town workers; but when the movement began to spread, it was among the farmers that consumers' cooperatives took firm root. Farm journals had carried articles on semi­cooperative dairies in America, Switzerland and elsewhere, and several attempts had been made to establish dairies more or less on cooperative lines, but it was in 1882 that the first real cooperative dairy was organized. Since then, it has become a model for other societies not only in Denmark but in the world at large. The story of its founding is interesting.

One day in the winter of 1881-82 a young travelling dairyman put up at a small inn with the apt name of "The Beergood Inn" on the west coast of Jutland. His conversations with the farmers led him to send out invitations to the neighboring farmers in the village of Hjedding, asking them to meet and discuss the problem of more efficient dairying. A number of the farmers responding, the young man outlined an idea he had about the making and marketing of butter. His plan was to engage an expert to teach farmers the best way of churning, and to establish a central salesroom to which the butter was to be taken for sale after being churned in the homes.

The farmers expressed an interest in the idea, but for some reason did not adopt it. They arranged another meeting to discuss the idea of a common market. It was probably through the initiative of a young dairyman, Stilling Andersen, that the group decided that instead of making butter and marketing it jointly, they would build a creamery and send their raw milk to it. The invention of the cream separator just at this point indicated to them the possibilities of such a cooperative enterprise. The farmers realized that it would be good economy, and good dairying too, to collect the milk from different herds and have it worked at some central place. Some of the farmers who owned fine herds had to be persuaded that the gain would be worth the risk they would take in mixing the milk. Those who were willing to join at first represented only 300 cows, but Stilling Andersen, in order to achieve the necessary minimum, promised to buy the milk of a hundred additional cows, and to enter the undertaking as a cooperator as well as the manager at a modest salary. whereupon the plan was adopted. A committee of five members was elected and one of them, Niels Kristensen, was entrusted with the task of drafting the rules of the cooperative. With Stilling Andersen and another farmer, N.H. Uhd, he set to work the night of the meeting, and by five o'clock the next morning they had drawn up the contract and rules of the new society. All the members were to own the dairy in common. They were to obtain the capital to erect the building and buy the equipment through a loan based on the security of the real property of the members, who were jointly responsible. Any surplus was to be divided according to the amount of milk delivered; the democratic principle was maintained in the rule that each member was to have only one vote at the general meeting regardless of the number of cows he owned.

As soon as the experiment at Hjedding showed itself to be successful, other communities began to build cooperative dairies in the neighborhood and in other parts of Denmark. The farmers soon realized the advantages of the cooperative dairies over the existing "Fællesmejerier".) The cooperative dairy returned the skim milk to the members at a nominal price, whereas the private dairy usually fed it to its own pigs. The private dairy also had to meet the problem of "thin milk" (diluted with water), a practice undreamed of in the cooperative, the success of which depended on the honesty of the individual members. When the villagers "saw that the bailiff, the schoolmaster and other respected members of the community joined", it was not long before the milk waggon was stopping at every farm and small­holding of the village. It became the rule that a farmer should deliver all his milk, except the quantity needed for use in the home, to the cooperative dairy, a rule that worked to the disadvantage of the farm laborer and the poor neighbor. After the introduction of the Gerber apparatus, payment was generally made on the basis of the fat content of the milk as well as of its weight.

The cooperative movement made rapid strides, especially in the years 1887-1888, when no less than 300 cooperative dairies were founded. In the beginning these received no support and only lukewarm interest from the large farmers and estate owners, and neither the State nor any other public agency took notice of them. It was from the peasant class that the movement recruited both leaders and followers.

Foremost among the peasants was Niels Pedersen, son of a small Jutland farmer. He had passed through the usual training of practical work on the farm, and like many other bright boys of his generation, he attended winter courses at a folk high school and an agricultural school. In addition he took a full eighteen months' course at the Royal Agricultural College, and having thus equipped himself with the best knowledge that the schools of his time offered to young farmers, he bought a farm of forty acres near Askov Folk High School and there opened an agricultural school, Ladelund. From the beginning he foresaw the success of the Hjedding experiment. "A wave has risen from the sea in the west; nothing can stem it until it sweeps over the whole country", he said. So many farmers' groups came to him for advice about organizing and equipping cooperative dairies that it is said that the watchdog of Ladelund never ceased barking.

Niels Pedersen saw the need for education among dairymen; and he trained many of the men who later became leading dairy managers. They received high ethical inspiration from him as well as practical instruction. His students said of him that "he gave us a scope for our life".

Two years later, Jørgen Petersen (1854-1908), principal of the large Dalum Agricultural School, followed Niels Pedersen's example and established special courses for dairymen.

The first task of the cooperative dairies was to produce butter of such quality as would compare favorably with the butter made on the large estates. As late as 1890 the estates' dairies were winning all the prizes for butter at the agricultural shows, but by the end of the century the situation was quite the reverse.

By 1900 the number of cooperative dairies was two­thirds of today's total. Of the 1,566 dairies in Denmark in 1949, 1,321 were cooperatives, which received 90% of the total milk supplied to dairies. There is a relatively even distribution over the country, a fact that accounts for the reduction in the cost of transportation of milk from the farm to the dairy and back again. The increasing use of the motor truck has, however, somehow eliminated the need for so many dairies; and further consolidation could reduce operating expenses,-coal, for instance.

The total milk production for 1950 was 5,403 million kilograms, of which some 70% was used for butter, 8% for cheese, 2 % for condensing, 8% for home use, and 11% sold for consumption. 90% of the butter was produced by cooperative dairies and 180,000, i.e. almost 90 % of all Danish farmers were members of cooperative dairies.

Milk Recording Societies

The cooperative principle was also applied in Milk Recording Societies. It was only natural that the members of the cooperative dairies, where milk from many farms was mixed together, should be interested in the fat content of the milk. In 1894, Mrs. Anine Hansen, wife of the leader of the experiment station at Vejen near .Askov Folk High School, suggested that a group of farmers should appoint a man to test and record the yield and cost of feeding each cow. The next years, Niels Pedersen and thirteen farmers of the neighborhood organized the "Vejen and District Control Society", the first of its kind in the world, and appointed a "Control Assistant", or Milk Recorder.

The report of a teacher from Ladelund Agricultural School in 1896 created something of a sensation when it revealed that it cost 585 øre to produce one kilogram of butter from the poorest cow, while it cost only 112 øre to produce the same quantity from the best cow. This report hastened the movement that had already begun for the elimination of inefficient cows and the improvement of breeds. The number of Milk Recording Societies grew until now there are 1,641, with more than half of the cows in the country under control.

One reason for the rapid growth was that the farmers who, by the turn of the century had control of Parliament, began to legislate in the interest of agriculture. The Act of 1902 concerning domestic animals provided for an annual grant to any Milk Recording Society which followed the general rules of management.

The members are jointly and severally responsible for the liabilities of the Society, which is managed by a committee of from three to five members. This committee in turn is under the joint management of a district committee. A central committee coordinates the work and the results of all the societies.

The recorders, who work for a modest salary generally receive their training at the larger agricultural schools, which, after their regular five or six months' winter course, offer a two months' course in milk control.

Besides improving breeds. the Milk Recording Societies have furnished the statistical basis for scientific feeding. The late Professor Lars Frederiksen, for about ten years leader of the Government experiments on the feeding of cattle, so systematized feeding that a very large number of Danish farmers now feed their cattle according to his formulae.

The Cooperative Bacon Factories.

For many years cooperative dairies occupied the first place in Danish export business, hut very close to them are the cooperative bacon factories; in certain years bacon export has become of greater importance to the Danish farmer shall butter export. The two branches have developed side by side, as the feeding of pigs depends on the by­products of the dairies. In 1950 the total turnover of the cooperative dairies was 1,7i35 million kroner, and of the cooperative bacon factories (which handled about 89 per cent of the total number of pigs supplied for killing) 1,390 million kroner.

In the early nineteenth century the breeding of pigs was far removed from the modern science of animal husbandry. Half­wild and ill­fed animals roamed loose in the woods and groves fending for themselves on whatever scanty food they could find. The increased enlightenment and efficiency of the farmers began to reflect themselves also in better pig raising, and when the cooperative dairies began, there was already a fairly substantial bacon export to England.

The marketing of bacon, however, was largely in the hands of private dealers, who bought pigs from farmers and sold them to slaughterhouses. When P. Bojsen, principal of a training college and a folk high school in Jutland, discovered that the farmers in his neighborhood paid a middleman's profit of about 30,000 kroner a year to dealers, he began in 1887 to agitate for the establishment of a cooperative slaughterhouse in the town of Horsens. In his opinion there would be three advantages in such an establishment: 1) the dealers' charges would be saved; 2) the question of by­products, an irksome one for the private abattoirs, would be greatly reduced, as the cooperators became interested in their utilization; and 3) the private shareholders' profits would be eliminated.

Opposition on the part of the town authorities, which was characteristic of the feeling of the urban population towards cooperative efforts, was at last overcome, and on the 22nd of December l887, the first killing was done in the first cooperative bacon factory. Then the real struggle began. A large Hamburg firm which owned several bacon factories in Denmark resolved to kill the new enterprise at its birth, or at least to give it such a blow that farmers in other parts of the country would be afraid to follow its example. It suddenly raised the price of pigs to prevent the cooperative factory from buying. But the members of the Horsens society saw through the trick and pledged themselves to sell their pigs to the cooperative factory only. Though for many years the society had economic difficulties and enemies everywhere among the private dealers and butchers, Mr. Bojsen continued his propaganda, and in the year 1888 four new cooperative slaughterhouses were opened.

For several reasons the cooperative bacon factories had a more difficult beginning than the cooperative dairies. The bacon factories had to oppose an already existing and fairly strongly organized private industry. Moreover it was difficult for the new slaughterhouses to hire technically skilled men because they were already engaged in private business. There was even at the annual general meeting in 1890 some agitation for the sale of the Horsens factory; but the storll1 blew over, only to be followed shortly by a greater danger, an attempt to amalgamate Horsens and other cooperative bacon factories with the private slaughterhouses. Although such amalgamation would undoubtedly have lessened competition and brought about many advantages for the factories, it was fortunate that the attempt was defeated. The keener the competition of the private curers, the more the need of keeping the cooperative factories as nearly perfect as possible.

The principles underlying the organization of a modern cooperative bacon factory are the same as those of the dairies, with a few essential differences. First, a bacon factory has 30 or 40 times as many members as a dairy and needs much more capital. Not only is the initial investment larger, but capital is necessary to finance the larger stores. Butter can be sent from the dairy the day after the milk comes in, but the bacon factory needs a longer time to deliver the finished product.

These facts influence the organization of a slaughterhouse. The capital is obtained by a loan-as in the case of the dairies-but the members do not as a rule guarantee this loan with all that they possess. There is limited liability, and the members within a smaller district (all known to each other) guarantee either a fixed sum or an amount proportionate to the number of pigs delivered from the district.

The cooperative bacon factory is as a rule situated in a town easily accessible to the farmers of a certain district. The members pledge themselves to deliver for a specified period (from 5 to 20 years).

During the war the number of pigs in Denmark decreased, but rose again, from 1½ millions in 1948 to 3½ millions in 1951. At present, the pigs are delivered to the bacon factories at a live weight of about 95 kg. The weight of the slaughtered animal for export is then approximately 70 kg, which gives 60 kg of bacon. To make the pig testing work more exact, and the results a better help to the breeders by the selection of boars and sows, the cooperative bacon factories have built three large testing stations with individual feeding.

The Consumers' Societies and the Cooperative Wholesale.

As already mentioned, the Rev. Hans Christian Sonne established the first Consumer Cooperative Society in 1866. He thus became the father of the Danish cooperative movement. Dr. F. F. Ulrich, a medical man, had called Sonne's attention to the activities of the English Rochdale pioneers, and it was their principles he adopted in the town of Thisted's Workers' Society, which began its cooperative activities by the joint purchase and distribution of bread and groceries for its members.

Along with his idealism and strict honesty, Sonne possessed a practical business sense. The movement he initiated was to survive ridicule and severe attacks in its early existence. About 1875 there were in all about 130 cooperative shops, the greater part in towns. After 1880, however, there followed an almost explosive expansion of the cooperative stores in the rural districts, while the towns, for a period, appeared to lose interest.

The great agricultural crisis in the eighties and nineties compelled the farmers to look for means to save expenses. During the same period the farmers carried through not only their political emancipation in the struggle with the government, but also their cultural and economic emancipation from both the National Liberals ­­ through their folk high schools-and the large merchants in the towns- through their cooperatives

There were in 1950 almost two thousand consumers' societies, and more than 1,900 of these were members of the Cooperative Wholesale. This had a turnover of 475.7 million kroner. The societies had a total membership of 420,500 persons. Measured by international standards the average membership and annual turnover of the Danish cooperatives are small. They have only to a minor extent adopted the system of district federation. As in other branches of the cooperative movement, the self­determination and self­government of the individual societies are maintained.

The first successful attempt toward an organization of the cooperative stores for the purpose of joint purchases was made by the Zealanders in 1S84, but it was the Jutlanders, under the leadership of Severin Jørgensen, manager of the Vester Nebel cooperative store, who carried the victory when, in 1896, the Cooperative Wholesale of the Danish Consumers' Stores was founded through an amalgamation of the Zealand and the Jutland wholesale houses. Tough its headquarters was situated in Copenhagen, Mr. Severin Jørgensen became the director. In this as in other important spheres this modest and unassuming store manager became the strong pioneer of the Danish cooperative movement.

As in the local societies the General Assembly is the highest authority. Each society sends a delegate with one vote, except the Copenhagen Society and the Aarhus Society, which have been formed by the amalgamation of independent societies and therefore have several delegates.


From the farmers' point of view one of the most important activities of the wholesale society is the improvement and sale of guaranteed seed. This is also an example of a happy collaboration between producers' and consumers' cooperatives. A cooperative society for improving seed. formed by the Danish agricultural societies, undertakes the production, and the wholesale does the distributing. The two societies together decide on tht sales price. In November of each year order blanks are sent to the local consumers' societies and to the farmers' and small-holders' associations for distribution among their members. The orders are filed at the wholesale distribution office, and in the spring the seed is sent in sealed and labelled parcels to the local stores for distribution to the farmers. The local societies receive a little more than 5% of the sales price.

Through this successful cooperation of producers and consumers the farmer is guaranteed well-grown and clean seed of superior quality.

Purchasing Societies.

To a great extent the purchase of grain, feed and chemical fertilizers ill Denmark is organized on a cooperative basis. The movement dates back to the Eighties, when inferior seed­cakes were sold in large quantities. The farmers, at a loss to know where they might obtain such stock feed as would increase the milk yield, began to organize cooperative societies for the purchase of feed. Under the leadership of a farmer, Anders Nielsen, the Jutland Feeding Stuffs Association fought a successful battle with private importers, who attempted to kill the society by dumping huge quantities of feedstuffs on the market. On Anders Nielsen's insistence the society resolved to compel its members to buy all their feed from it, but no more than was required for the use of their own stock. The latter regulation was made in order to prevent the formation of any private undertakings that might do harm to the movement as a whole. In 1948 the feeding­stuff societies numbered 1,635 with 100,000 individual members, and handled nearly half the feed business in Denmark.

In 1901 Anders Nielsen again took the initiative in organizing the first cooperative for the purchase and sale of artificial manure. Until the War of 1914-18, however, the society did not import fertilizer. The fertilizer trust took advantage of the war situation to demand from the cooperatives that they pledge themselves to buy all their fertilizer from the trust for five years. The answer of the cooperatives was a plan for the building of chemical factories by the Danish Cooperative Manure Supply Society. The local societies pledged themselves to deal solely with the association, and in July 1916, Anders Nielsen was able to inform an assembly of 871 delegates that 1,353 local societies with 67,000 members had joined the association, which now represented farms of a collective value of 750,000,000 kroner. The society has not been able to build its own factories, but it has good connections in foreign countries and it supplies fertilizer at reasonable prices to the amount of nearly 40 % of the chemical fertilizer used in the country.

The cooperative purchasing movement has resulted also in Cooperative Coal Societies, Dairy Societies' Joint Purchase, and Engineering Works, and Cement Works.

Other cooperative societies deal in Accident and Damage Insurance; and there is a Pension Society, and a Cooperative Sanatorium Association which operates a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients and another for rheumatic patients.

Cooperative Export Societies.

When the Danish, cooperative dairy societies were formed, they aimed chiefly at the improvement of the product, leaving the sale to the merchants; but as early as 1887 an association of cooperative dairies on the island of Funen was formed for marketing purposes. Statistics for 194S show that the butter export societies, 10 in number, with an annual turnover of 1,340 million kroner, handled 55 % of the butter exported from the country.

The butter is usually sold f.o.b., and the price is fixed every Thursday on the Produce Exchange in Copenhagen by a committee representing the producers, the cooperative export societies, the private Danish firms, and the established buyers for the English cooperative stores and chain stores.

Generally the bacon factories sell through brokers in the main consuming market in England. However, several factories have united in setting up a selling organization, called the Danish Bacon Company, which has headquarters in London and branches in a number of cities.

The Cooperative Egg Marketing Association represents another cooperative enterprise. It was Severin Jørgensen and two village schoolmasters who, about 1890, suggested that local egg circles should be organized and joined into a cooperative egg export society to cover the whole country. The members contract to collect and handle eggs in such a way as to produce a high quality product. Each member and each circle are identified by numbers, and every egg is stamped with those two numbers. In case of complaint every egg can thus be traced back to the producer. In 1948 there were 906 egg export societies in Denmark, with a membership of 49,000, and a turnover of 68.4 million kroner. The cooperative bacon factories exported eggs amounting to about 15 million kroner. The private egg export firms, which must be authorized by the Ministry of Agriculture, accounted for about 70% of the egg export.

The Government Control Service controlling dairy products also controls the export eggs in regard to quality, grading, marking and packing. The eggs are examined by candling.

A number of cattle export associations have been formed, each local association operating independently. Members contract to sell all cattle for a period of a few years to the association, so the latter always has a dependable supply. Operating capital is raised by borrowing against the members' joint liability. In 1948 there were 20 associations, with 40,000 members and a yearly turnover of nearly 68.4 million kroner. The cattle export associations and the cattle sales associations together handle about 40 % of all Danish exports of cattle and meat.

The usual pooling arrangement obtains in the cattle export association. The approximate value of the cattle is paid to the owner within a week's time, and final payment is made at the end of the year, after operating expenses have been met.

The Cooperative Bank.

In 1914 a Danish cooperative undertaking was set up which at first proved a failure. It was a bank which was to operate according to cooperative principles and do banking for the benefit of the members. It had a promising start, but the deflation following the war of 1914-18 brought about heavy losses; and there were also a few unwise engagements undertaken.

A distrust of the bank spread among the cooperators, and no serious attempts were made to keep the bank solvent. This apathy eventually resulted in bankruptcy, though it proved later that the assets of the bank could almost have met its liabilities. In fact, it paid off its creditors at more than 90%.

A new cooperative bank was established in the same year in which the old one closed; and the "Andelsbanken" is a going concern, which just before the Occupation was the fourth largest bank in Denmark, with every expectation of realizing the aspirations of the first cooperative band.

Development in Cooperation during World War II.

During the occupation the Germans did not interfere with the Danish cooperative movement. The consumer societies did suffer from lack of sufficient supplies and the Cooperative Wholesale was not able to develop as it might have done under normal conditions. On the other hand, the efforts to adapt the production to the existing possibilities caused some new developments. The increased interest in fruit growing led to the formation of several cooperatives, which in 1945 were joined together as the Danish Fruit Growers' Cooperative Association for the sale of fruit to home markets as well as for export. In 1947 the National Association of Cooperative Laundries was formed.

After the war one of the main tasks was to find a cooperative basis for the increasing mechanization of agriculture. In 1947 the Danish Farmer's Cooperative Association for the Purchase of Machines was formed, and in 1948 the Association of Cooperative Refrigerator Plants came into existence. Several cooperative machine stations sprang up in order to help the members get part of their work done by tractors and other agricultural machines which they owned in common. However, in spite of the large profits on the private sale of agricultural machines, not followed suit with their Swedish colleagues, who often have their machines placed at agricultural schools for use in instruction. In Sweden some thirty per cent of all agricultural machines are cooperatively owned.

Characteristic Features of Danish Farmers' Cooperation.

The most characteristic form of cooperation in Denmark is the producers' society; and cooperation throughout bears the stamp of the farmers who promoted it. The societies borrow their funds for fixed and working capital, and the farmers' influence is seen in the liability provisions which hold their members jointly responsible for obligations incurred by them. This would hardly have been the case had townspeople determined the policy of the movement. However close together people live in towns, they are farther apart in spirit than the farmers scattered through a rural district, and are less likely to be willing to guarantee loans made in conjunction with people whom they do not know. In recent years, when large numbers of townsfolk have joined the cooperative stores, their influence has been apparent in the organization of the Cooperative Wholesale, which is based on limited liability. Nor does the Wholesale any longer demand, as it once did, that its members, i.e., the cooperative stores, have joint liability within their own ranks. The greater number of cooperative stores have, however, not yet availed themselves of this change of policy.

Dean Sonne and Severin Jørgensen, the great pioneers in the movement, were ardent advocates of unlimited liability. They feared that if the risk and responsibility were lessened, the movement would lose its strength and moral importance. It is possible, however, that the Danish cooperative stores will sooner or later follow the example of the cooperatives in England, Sweden and other countries, where each member is held responsible only for the liability attached to his own shares. Unlimited liability in Denmark served its purpose at the beginning by making access to loans easy, but in the course of time it has made. for great difficulties in cases of failure. These, however, have been few.

In the matter of disposal of surplus, the Danish cooperatives have travelled a different road from that of the Rochdale pioneers. The Rochdale policy is to sell goods at current prices and then to use part of the undistributed surplus for social, educational and philanthropic purposes. The Danish cooperatives have as a rule also sold at current prices, but they have used practically all their surplus for the payment of instalments on debts, the accumulation of reserve funds, and the payment of dividends to members. "We already have social legislation which takes care of the old and the invalid", the farmers said. "And why should we start an educational program as long as we have folk high schools? And too much information about our movement and the ways of running it will do no good, hut will tend rather to split it". Their reasoning may have been good or bad. The British movement spends a great deal on educational purposes, and the Swedish cooperatives have always insisted on the need of enlightenment for the public and the cooperators alike. After the War of 191~18, during the period of economic instability, the need was felt in Denmark for a thorough understanding of the system. In 1928 the Cooperative Wholesale started an entertaining fortnightly publication, Brugsforeningsbladet, which serves as a link between the members of the stores, and advertises the movement. Another step in the program of self­understanding was the establishment in 1932 of the Middelfart Cooperative College by the Cooperative Wholesale. The school has about one hundred students, prospective managers and others, studying cooperation and commercial subjects.

The Danish societies have not followed the Swedish practice of limiting dividends to three per cent in order to cut down prices, but, as has been noted in the chapter on bacon factories and purchasing societies, they too have successfully competed with monopolies and trusts, without attempting to become monopolies themselves.

Even today there are no State laws governing the cooperatives in Denmark. What legal basis exists is a kind of common law which has developed from the constitutions and by­laws and practices of the societies themselves. As the farmers did not, as a rule, employ legal counsel in drawing up contracts and other papers, these latter have not always been so clear and precise as they might have been, but they have been able to stand the test of the courts.

The cooperative consumers' societies were tax­free as long as they sold to members only, but if they sold to non­members they were taxed on their surplus just as with private stores. The production societies were exempt from taxation if they worked, improved, or sold their members" produce, even though they were sometimes obliged to buy products from non­members in order to maintain their special activity. In 1940, however, an amendment was introduced making distributive societies and similar cooperative associations, under certain specified conditions, liable to the payment of State income tax.

Danish cooperation is not the outcome of a theory. It has been a spontaneous, sporadic and non­political development, prompted solely by practical needs and maintained by socially­minded local supporters. In this respect it is quite different from the Finnish cooperative movement, in which the idea antedated the organization, and in which also centralization from the beginning made the movement efficient to a degree which the Danish cooperative attained only after years of experimentation.

It was not until 1899 that an association was set up in Denmark to coordinate all the central organizations, composed of the local societies within the separate branches dairies, bacon factories, etc. This coordinating organization is known as the Federation of Danish Cooperative Societies. The current affairs and the work between delegate conferences are conducted by the committee of the federation, the Central Cooperative Committee of Denmark (Andelsudvalget), but it is a cardinal principle underlying the activities of the central committee that it should not interfere with the work of the individual societies or associations, but confine itself to joint problems such as representation to government committees, to the Agricultural Council and to the International Cooperative Alliance. It prepares matters which may later be passed on to one or another of the special societies or may occasion the establishment of a new society. It prepares an annual survey of cooperative statistics and publishes a journal, Andelsbladet, which serves as the joint organ of the cooperative movement.

The cooperatives have not transformed society in Denmark. Private business still is the rule in most urban industries and commerce. The farmers in the cooperatives are eager to maintain an open market, and they are free to patronize private concerns, if they become dissatisfied and choose to terminate their membership at the end of the contract period. In cases in which there is no contract, as in the stores, members may leave the society at any time. But the fact remains that in the course of time the Danish farmers have been so thoroughly organized that they are environed by cooperation. A farmer who wishes may get his mortgage loans from cooperative credit societies, he may electrify his farm through cooperatives, he may sell his milk, pigs and eggs through cooperative dairies and export societies, and buy household wares as well as seed, feed and fertilizer in village cooperative societies. He can make provision for illness and death through cooperative sickness and insurance societies, and he can place his savings in cooperative or mutual savings banks.

Freed from the merchandizing requirements of their calling, the farmers have been able to concentrate on the production of superior crops and livestock and to adapt their production to changes in the foreign market. The cooperatives have made possible the development of more highly standardized products and the consequent reduction of their selling costs.

Though the administration with its bulky organization and democratic methods may make for slower management than an effectively run private corporation, the cooperatives have, on the whole, operated economically and have furnished a healthy competition to private business. They have eliminated the possibility of exploitation of the farmer and have given the small­holder the same bargaining power as his more affluent neighbor.

Many farmers grumble at what they consider excessive government regulations though others consider the regulations as having saved Danish agriculture. In either case, the farmers' effective organization and their capacity to work together have made it possible for the government regulations to be tried and to function as well as they have.

What Made the Danish Farmers Cooperators?

Why have the Danish farmers developed cooperation to a higher degree than farmers in other countries? It is often said that there is an intimate link between Danish butter and bacon and the Danish folk high school. When Sir Horace Plunkett, the Irish land reformer, visited Denmark to study agricultural methods and conditions, he found to his surprise that the success of farmers' cooperation had its deepest root in a purely cultural institution, the folk high school. He who had come to investigate a piece of machinery remained to study a philosophy. Dr. Stampa of Jugoslavia had the same experience when he spent a fortnight studying a little Jutland community.

Many other observers have noted this close relationship between the cooperatives and the folk high schools. Nevertheless, to suppose that the cooperative movement is wholly the product of the folk high school system is to oversimplify the question. Cooperation was practically forced upon the Danish farmers by an external factor: dependence on the foreign market. The necessity of wholesale transportation, steadiness of supply, and uniformity of quality put before the small Danish farmer the choice between handing his produce over to a big commercial firm or joining a cooperative society and thus avoiding the middleman's profit. It was comparatively easy for him to choose the second alternative. As there is little class distinction among the farmers, they mix socially and so find it easy to join in economic undertakings.

It is at this point that the folk high school enters the cooperative picture. Led by a fcw pioneers of idealism and practical enterprise the farmers were able to carry the cooperative movement through by themselves without help from the government. That they could do so is largely due to the influence of the folk high school, which not only supplied the pioneers of the movement but educated the whole peasantry to an understanding of their problem and a trustful appreciation of their leaders.

J.T. Arnfred, principal of Askov Folk High School and Chairman of the Board of Representatives of the Cooperative Wholesale, has written that, whereas in a competitive society the failure of your neighbor may be the cause of your own success, cooperation can only be furthered by people who are ready to she their successes and failures with others. It is this spirit of fellowship which the folk high schools helped to foster.

They did that without propaganda for cooperation. Foreigners who visit Danish folk high schools are surprised to find that cooperation is not one of the subjects in the curriculum. The influence of the high schools on the cooperative movements is indirect. Several thousand farmers' sons and daughters each year go through the folk high schools and agricultural schools. The schools tend to awaken in these young people a sense of what the individual owes to the community, a feeling of confidence in others, and willingness to mate sacrifices for the common good. Almost every Danish farmer has at some time in his life come into contact with the folk high schools. The schools hold great meetings in the autumn and at other times, which farmers from the vicinity attend in large numbers, whether or not they have been students.

Cooperation in Denmark has had a particularly free and democratic character. In creating this spirit the folk high schools have played an important part. They have taught that men are judged not by the size of their talents but by the use they make of them. The instruction they have given has enabled the ordinary farmer so to improve his knowledge as to become an efficient member of a cooperative committee or even to become a manager. And the folk high school's ideal of freedom with responsibility has become an ethical force in the cooperatives.

When in the early days of the folk high schools their freedom was threatened by the government, the principals-who also owned the schools - faced with great courage the possibility of losing State support rather than being subject to political control. Their conduct set an example of loyalty to the cause of freedom. The farmer, who as a student had watched the struggle, later as a cooperator followed the example of his teacher and saved the cooperatives from the threat of extinction by big business. He remained loyal to his pledge notwithstanding the immediate gain he might have won through abandoning the cooperative enterprise.

There are numerous witnesses to the debt the cooperatives owe the folk high schools. In an article about the Danish cooperative movement, Director Anders Nielsen writes of the folk high school: "It has filled in and levelled the cleavages in society and thereby paved the way for common endeavor. It has sent students out into life with an increased love for the country and its achievements, riper and more thoughtful, more receptive to life's teaching, and therefore better equipped to understand and make their way ... This significance of the folk high schools has now been emphasized and affirmed so often and from so many sides that it can be stated as a fact that not only the cooperative movements but the cultural position of Danish farmers as a whole rests on this foundation. When we consider the social importance of the cooperative movement and its economic contribution to the national development, we must acknowledge with gratitude the great religious and educational leaders Grundtvig and Kold and their many co­workers and followers who have called forth a higher culture and a feeling of solidarity among the people, and who have also taught the people to think and to use their powers so that not only the individual but the whole community is benefitted".

Anders Nielsen speaks truly. No one can understand the peculiar national culture of Denmark without reference to the folk high school and to its founder, the man who through a long and dramatic personal development gathered such rich treasures in his soul that when the time of need came, he was able to coin them for the benefit of a whole People.

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