They state how the cooperative will conduct business and must be consistent with both State statutes and the articles of incorporation.
Bylaws usually have membership requirements and lists rights and responsibilities of members; grounds and procedures for member expulsion; how to call and conduct membership meetings, methods of voting, how directors and officers are elected or removed, and their number, duties, terms of office, and compensation; time and place of director meetings; dates of the fiscal year; requirement to conduct business on a cooperative basis; how net margins will be distributed; process for redemption of members’ equity; a consent provision that members will include the face value of written notices of allocation and per-unit retain certificates as income in the year they are received; distribution of nonpatronage income; handling of losses; treating nonmember business; dissolution of the cooperative; indemnification of directors; and the process for amending the bylaws.
Also covered is how the board is structured to represent the membership, given geographical distribution and size of the membership and the scope of business and function of the cooperative. Directors may be selected to represent districts based on membership density, to reflect commodities or services to be handled, or some other basis that provides equitable representation. The organizing committee’s recommended management structure should include the basis for director representation, voting methods, and board officers, and their terms.
For marketing cooperatives that lack a marketing agreement, the bylaws specify the extent of members’ obligation to market through the cooperative. They outline the terms and conditions under which the products will be marketed and accounting procedures.
The committee prepares the articles and bylaws with the help of an attorney so provisions comply with laws of the State in which the cooperative is incorporated. The committee’s role also is to assure the bylaw provisions will not conflict with operating procedures.