About Minnesota COACT and the
COACT Education Foundation
Minnesota COACT, a non-profit 501c4, is the state’s oldest active grassroots, direct action, citizens’ organization, which began as a neighborhood organization in Duluth’s West End in 1975 to stop red-lining and a freeway from coming through.
Beginning in the early 1980s, COACT reached out to rural Minnesota to organize farm families on (1) FmHA rights, (2) sustainable commodity prices, (3) legislation for a moratorium on farm foreclosures and a farmer-lender mediation program, (4) rBGH milk labeling, and (5) the creation of the Minnesota Dairy Producers Board for fair milk pricing policies for farmers and consumers.
In August 1984, 100 farmers and supporters used civil disobedience in the famous Paynesville bank action to protest the banks’s unjust termination of the Kohnen family’s dairy operating loan, which led to the arrest of 37 COACT members, including the six month infant daughter of one of the protesters. This action inspired the historical 1985 farm foreclosure moratorium movement, Groundswell, which culminated with 17,000 farmers and supporters rallying at the state capitol in February 1985 for the moratorium.
In the late 1980s and through the 1990s, COACT partnered with the Minnesota Senior Federation to lead a coalition of 30 of the state’s most prominent civic organizations and unions in the Health Care Campaign of Minnesota (HCCM) for single-payer universal health care, which evolved to today’s Minnesota Universal Health Care Coalition (MUHCC) for the Minnesota Health Plan.
Working closely with the COACT parent organization is the COACT Education Foundation (CEF), which is a 501c 3 organization dedicated to public education on social and economic justice issues affecting Minnesota individuals and communities. Since its incorporation in 1991, CEF has worked with lower income people and under-represented populations (people of color, women, rural and inner city residents, etc.) in key public policy issues.
Both organizations place a high value on providing community education, skills training, and research opportunities targeted to COACT leaders, members, representatives and members of other organizations, and the general public.
Stopping farm foreclosures during the farm crisis of the 1980s by winning a state moratorium law with the farmer-lender mediation program is counted as one of our greatest victories because farmers to this day have the right to third party mediation. This means a lender must work with the farmer to find ways of saving the farm rather than initiating foreclosure.