40 Square has been the collective mission of health care advocates for more than a decade. Cooperative Network, the Minnesota and Wisconsin state trade association of cooperatives and United Farmers Cooperative, an agricultural supply cooperative based in Winthrop, Minnesota, has been striving for member-owned health plan options for Minnesota farm families and their employees since 2004. Putting this idea into motion, 40 Square Cooperative Solutions was created and registered with the Minnesota Secretary of State in 2009.

With recent legislative changes, 40 Square Cooperative Solutions, is excited to sponsor a joint self-insurance plan that will be funded through a trust.

What is a Cooperative?

A cooperative, or co-op, is a business that is owned by its members working toward a common goal. A co-op is governed by a board of directors, elected by its members.


Our mission has been to establish a member-owned, member-governed cooperative which: 1) offers increased access to quality health coverage options; 2) inform, coach, and educate  members about health care and, 3) provide wellness information for Minnesota’s agricultural community.


To be recognized by our members, and the health care industry, as a member-controlled provider of health coverage with outstanding service that brings trust, transparency and ownership to our 40 Square Cooperative Solutions’ Members.

History Behind 40 Square’s Name*

As we’ve traveled the state, this question has been asked of us so many times that we knew we needed to provide the interesting answer to this question on our website. In 2009, those involved in the effort at that time to bring additional health plan options to Minnesota’s agricultural community came up with a list of names for the cooperative. It was important that the name of the co-op reflect agriculture. One of those names was “40 Square”, which is rooted in our nation’s agrarian history.  In 1862, the Homestead Act was passed and signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln. The new law established that any U.S. citizen, or intended citizen, who had never borne arms against the U.S. Government could file an application and lay claim to 160 acres of surveyed government land. These 160-acre sections were divided into four sections of 40 square acres each.


For the next five years, the homesteader was required to live on the 160-acres of land and improve it by building a 12-by-14 dwelling and grow crops. After five years, the homesteader could file for his patent (or deed of title) by submitting proof of residency and the required improvements to a local land office.


Title could also be acquired after a six-month residency and trivial improvements, provided the claimant paid the government $1.25 per acre. After the Civil War, Union soldiers could deduct the time they served from the residency requirements.


The attraction of this historical component led to the name of “40 Square” being established as the cooperative’s name.


* Potter, Lee Ann and Wynell Schamel. “The Homestead Act of 1862.” Social Education 61, 6 (October 1997): 359-364.[Online version, www.archives.gov/education/lessons/homestead-act, National Archives and Records Administration, June 25, 2018.]



Member Support Specialist position description forthcoming.


“Many farm owners are struggling with the high cost of health care. This is an alternative”

–  Member

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