One hundred years of the Agricultural Cooperative "Vranjevo" in Novi Bečej: History and heritage

Discover the rich and diverse past of the Agricultural Cooperative 'Vranjevo' in Novi Bečej through the hundred-year experience of the community that shaped the rural economy. Read about its founding, changes over time, challenges and achievements, and how it influenced the life and work of peasants. Find out more about significant events, personalities and documents that bear witness to her priceless legacy that still shapes the local community today. This collection of texts provides an insight into the permanent commitment of cooperative members, their contribution to rural development and the lasting value of the "Vranjevo" Cooperative in Novi Bečej.

Establishment of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač
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Establishment of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač

The fundamental cooperative principles formulated by the oldest consumer cooperative founded in England in the town of Rochdale in 1844 were as follows:

- The principle of voluntariness, freedom of entry and exit from the cooperative,
- The "open-door principle,"
- The principle of democracy or the principle of equality,
- Limited interest on capital,
- Fair distribution of savings,
- Political, national, and religious neutrality,
- Cash payments, and
- Cooperative education and upbringing.

It is interesting to note that after the establishment of this cooperative in Rochdale, the second cooperative was founded in Sobotište in Slovakia in 1845, and the third in the world was established in Bački Petrovac in 1846. It was founded by Slovaks in Vojvodina under the influence of enlightenment ideas from Slovakia. The first agricultural cooperative among the Serbs was also established in Vojvodina, namely the Agricultural Cooperative in Titel in 1868. Cooperatives of various types that were organized in the following decades in the territory of Southern Hungary were strongholds in the struggle of the Serbian people against Hungarianization and Germanization. The goal was undoubtedly economic security and the economic strengthening of peasants and farmers.

Various forms of cooperatives have emerged to this day, such as agricultural, housing, youth and student, artisan, and savings and credit cooperatives. However, the most significant and developed is agricultural cooperativism. To understand what cooperativism meant for the Serbian peasant from the perspective of the past, one can look at the heading of any letter from the Union of Serbian Agricultural Cooperatives, in which the following motto was emphasized:

"We know that the circumstances of the Serbian people can only be improved through continuous and persistent work. Therefore, we do not rely on anyone but ourselves and are ready and determined to complete all our tasks on our own."

The Union of Serbian Agricultural Cooperatives was founded in Zagreb as early as 1897. The same Union was renamed the Main Union of Serbian Agricultural Cooperatives in 1898 and was relocated to Belgrade. In order to establish an agricultural cooperative, a group of farmers from Arač turned to the Union of Serbian Agricultural Cooperatives based in Zagreb (hereinafter referred to as the Union) because they territorially and organizationally belonged to them.

This was common because the farmers of that time living in Vojvodina were practically under Austro-Hungarian rule, and the administrative language was Hungarian. For this reason, the Union of Serbian Agricultural Cooperatives issued instructions and corresponded with the newly established cooperatives to facilitate and expedite their membership rights. The correspondence on behalf of the future Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač (hereinafter referred to as the SAC in Arač) was conducted by Bogolјub Malešev. This man was most likely the initiator and initiator of the association into a cooperative.

The goal of founding cooperatives at that time can be seen in the articles published in Privrednik, the cooperative newspaper, or as stated in its subtitle, the Organ of the Union of Serbian Agricultural Cooperatives. There, for example, they transferred the text of the resolution of the Eighth Congress of the Union held on May 17 and 18, 1905, from issue to issue.

The oldest preserved data on cooperatives in Arač dates back to August 23, 1909. It is a letter that the Union sent to Bogolјub Malešev.

The letter states that the Union sent a book by Pavle Aršinov to the farmer Malešev at his address in Arač, titled "Is There a Remedy for Evil?" A conversation among Serbian farmers about agricultural cooperatives.

This book was sent to Malešev so that he could read it to his friends and like-minded people with the intention of examining whether all of them were truly interested in establishing an agricultural cooperative, checking whether the cooperative in Arač could progress, and whether these interested people were all "honest, upright, sober, industrious, progressive, without any vices, in a word, in everything and in every way for the cooperative." If it turns out that they are interested and if everything goes according to the usual order, the Union's letter states that they will send Malešev documents and instructions on how to establish the cooperative.

The book by P. Aršinov was written in a dialogical form to explain more easily and comprehensively to uneducated people, often illiterate, what it actually meant to propose the establishment of a cooperative. The book ends with the words of one of the main participants in the conversation, a certain Maleša, who says:

"You have heard the rules, what is required, to be able to form a cooperative. You are all honorable and chosen, and that is the most important thing required. You all have the will to establish a cooperative, and thus it is already conceived. It's also good that there are few of you. In the beginning, there should not be more than 10-15 cooperators. The more there are, the harder it is to instruct and accustom them to the community. When a smaller number is well instructed in work, it becomes a healthy ferment for further work. Even Christ did not spread his teachings with a hundred, but only with twelve apostles. When a smaller number is well coordinated and instructed in work, it becomes a solid core that does not allow cooperators to disperse, no matter how many there are later, but draws them to itself, so they gather and strengthen around it. Then the well-instructed smaller number teaches those who come later. Now I will also inform the Union of Serbian Agricultural Cooperatives in Zagreb that we are willing to establish a cooperative and ask them to send us everything we need to comply with the law and the rules of agricultural cooperatives. I will let you know what needs to be done later, when the time comes."

Bogolјub Malešev's letter to the Union from Arač has not been preserved, but it is known that it was written on August 23, 1909, and the response to this letter arrived from Zagreb two days later. The response shows that the peasants inquired about the procedure they had to fulfill to ensure that everything was done in order and that the cooperative they intended to establish became a full member of the Union. The purpose and goal of joining the Union were, among other things, to obtain credit under favorable conditions for the cooperative members.

Instructions came from the Union that in the SAC in Arač, it was necessary to select representatives from all participants in the Constituent Assembly and form the following governing bodies:

1. Management Board consisting of 5 members: president, vice president, and 3 members;
2. Supervisory Board consisting of 4 members, which would not have a president appointed by the constitutive assembly of the cooperative, but the chairman would be elected at the first session of the Supervisory Board;
3. Cooperative Manager.

The Union recommended that officials be chosen from the ranks of farmers and, if possible, those who are the best and literate, to serve as an example to others and be capable of leading the cooperative. The farmers from Arač had already sent the names of those who attended the Founding Assembly of the SAC in Arač to the Union and planned to become members of the Management and Supervisory Boards. Still, the Union told them that next to each name, they

must indicate the function that the member will perform in the cooperative. Also, the Union asked for clarification of which founders were literate and which were not, next to each founder's name.

On September 15, several documents arrived from the Union in Arač. First, there were papers on the establishment of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač on which all members of the Founding Assembly were supposed to put their signatures, then the Instruction on how to establish a cooperative (hereinafter referred to as the Instruction), and others.

Indeed, four days later, on September 19, 1909, the founders signed a document titled Alapszabályai (Statute), which shows that the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač was established as an association with unlimited liability.

The following cooperators who were literate and accepted the conditions set by the Union put their signatures on that document:

- Vujackov Dušan, president,
- Tomašev Isak,
- Popov Ivan,
- Isakov Miloš,
- Dujin Novak,
- Prčić Marin,
- Perić Marinko,
- Malešev Živa,
- Pejin Živko,
- Tomašev Nikola,
- Malešev Bogolјub, cooperative manager,
- Vrebalov Jovan,
- Arkadije Miletić,
- Živa Pantelić.

The document was endorsed with their signatures by Svetozar Jovanović and Marinko Perić on behalf of the Cooperative, while on behalf of the Court, the same was done by Mila Vlaškalin and Miša Vasić. In the next ten days, the documents regarding the establishment of SZZ Arač were completed and signed. This document was sent to Zagreb and returned on September 25, 1909, to be stamped, sealed, and authenticated according to the instructions. The document was then sent to the relevant authorities, and SZZ in Arač received confirmation that it was established according to the existing rules by an act called Végzés (Order), completing the establishment of SZZ in Arač by the court in Veliki Bečkerek, today's Zrenjanin.

To inform the public about the establishment of the cooperative and make its operations official, it was legally required to wait for two to three weeks for the announcement of the establishment of SZZ Arač in the contemporary Hungarian-language newspaper Központi Értesítő. The Cooperative Union wrote to the members in Arač that "authorities in your area are holding on to these matters tightly." Meanwhile, the founders of SZZ in Arač had to recruit new members and advocate throughout the village for as many peasants as possible to join the newly established organization.

The Serbian Union of Agricultural Cooperatives announced in its newsletter that, along with other cooperatives, the Serbian Peasants' Cooperative in Arač would also be established. This was published in the Zadrugarstvo newspaper under the headline "Serbian agricultural cooperatives are being established in these places."

The purpose of establishing the cooperative in the village is evident from the fact that, in response to the members' inquiry about making honey wine and brandy, six issues of the Serbian Beekeeper, a specialized magazine for beekeeping enthusiasts, were sent to SZZ in Arač. In other words, the Union aimed to provide comprehensive education to those peasants who joined the cooperatives. It sent information about manuals and books on agriculture, as well as topics such as health, folk medicine, economy in general, and instructive books about cooperatives themselves.

As previously announced in a letter, a letter arrived from Zagreb on October 30, stating that the Hungarian newspaper Központi Értesítő had published on October 26, 1909, in issue 86, that the SZZ company in Arač was founded, but the word "Szerb" (Serbian) was omitted from the cooperative's name. It was necessary to wait for the final court decision to confirm the name "Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač" before requesting a correction from the newspaper. This was considered the official public announcement of the company's establishment.

The next step for the cooperative was to acquire registration materials and other office supplies from the Union. On that occasion, they obtained:
1. Books
- Alphabetical register of members (in Serbian and Hungarian, sent to the court every December 31)
- Receipts journal
- Issuance journal
- Share, role, and loan book
- Permanent savings book
- Small savings book
2. Forms
- Application for admission
- Membership application
- Loan application
- Bond and bond list
- Notice of exclusion from the cooperative
- Final account (in Serbian and Hungarian)
- Member's property
- Quarterly membership status report (in Hungarian, sent to the court every three months)
- Board of Directors' report (in Hungarian)
- Supervisory Board report (in Hungarian)
- Quarterly report on the cooperative's work and status (sent to the Union)
- Forms for minutes of meetings of the assembly, Board of Directors, and Supervisory Board
- Membership cards
- Debt cards
- Permanent and small savings books and deposit book
- Receipts for money received
- Savings slips
- Interest table
3. Miscellaneous
- Paper
- Envelopes
- Minute books
- Auditor's control book
- 3 stamps (1 in Serbian, 2 in Hungarian)
- Cushion and ink
- Checkbook (checks were used to send money by mail)
- Rules of Serbian peasant cooperatives.
They received an invoice from the Union for these acquisitions.

This was the material with which all newly established agricultural cooperatives were equipped at that time, and it was considered sufficient to conduct business in accordance with cooperative rules. The next step was for the cooperative to be admitted to the Union, where an account would be opened for it, enabling financial transactions.

At the beginning of November, a letter arrived from Zagreb requesting SZZ in Arač to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting where members would decide on joining the Union. The minutes of this meeting would be sent to the Union for review and certification. A translation of the minutes into Hungarian would then be made, and SZZ in Arač would send it to the court in Veliki Bečkerek for approval to join the Union.

The Union sent a letter to SZZ in Arač, which needed to be stamped and sent to Központi Értesítő to correct the cooperative's name. The Union also copied and preserved the original court decision on registering SZZ in Arač in the Trade Register, considering it a copy for the cooperative's membership in the Union. This correction of the name "SZZ from Arač" was published in the Hungarian newspaper only on November 25, 1909.

The next task awaiting SZZ in Arač was to gather members for a regular meeting. According to the rules, cooperative meetings were to be organized on Sundays when no farmer was busy, and on that occasion, they promoted cooperatives and their principles. The basic cooperative principles, according to a letter from the Union of Serbian Agricultural Cooperatives in Zagreb that needed to be disseminated, were:
1. Members should attend meetings regularly every Sunday, read the Privrednik newspaper, and discuss important matters and what they hear at the meeting.
2. Each member should bring and deposit their savings every Sunday. If any member avoided this and, for example, stood in front of a tavern, they should be excluded from the cooperative because they are unworthy.
3. Members should invest borrowed money in useful things and repay the debt as accurately as possible since respecting repayment deadlines is fundamental in cooperatives. Once this is violated, it becomes a problem for both the member and the cooperative.
4. Everything in cooperatives should be promptly and accurately organized from the beginning. If one thing is not done correctly, others will follow, and members will be overwhelmed with various tasks, making it difficult to keep up with all activities, such as deposits, repayments, savings, loan applications.
5. Successful cooperative work depends on the Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board and the work of the manager. These people are responsible for everything happening in the cooperative, so they must adhere precisely and conscientiously to their obligations from the very beginning.
6. The most important thing is that all members live in brotherly love and cooperative harmony because that is the foundation of any business, especially cooperative business. Without harmony and love, a cooperative cannot survive.
7. If this is followed, there will be no obstacles to the cooperative's progress. If a problem arises, members should immediately work on its solution. It was recommended that the cooperative contact the Union for any issues related to cooperatives and not listen to any other advisors. The Union was at their disposal for all questions related to cooperatives.

It is evident that this instruction was sent as a circular letter to all cooperatives that were members of the Alliance. They were requested to hold a meeting, read the letter to the members, discuss its content, and send a response to the Alliance. Every new member of the cooperative was supposed to familiarize themselves with the contents of this letter as it elucidates the essence of the organization they are joining, and the letter was to be permanently preserved. The members of the Agricultural Cooperative in Arač took this seriously and have preserved the letter to this day.

According to the letter from the Agricultural Cooperative in Arač, on November 19, 1909, the competent Hungarian authorities - felsolgabirova, did not allow them to join the Alliance. In response, the Alliance informed them that they only needed to send the documents to the authorities and start their activities immediately, as the documents would be in the procedure.

The question arises as to why the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač needed all documents to be authenticated and legal permission to operate, and why they were so interested in expediting this process. The answer can be found in a letter sent to the Alliance, although the exact contents are not preserved. According to a letter from the Alliance dated November 23, 1909, it is evident that the members of the Arač Cooperative wanted to know the amount of the credit that would be approved for them. The decision on this was made by the Alliance's Board of Directors, and the principles they followed were as follows: "The cooperative provides loans to its members so that they can assist each other in their most urgent needs, enable them to work because only through work can they make a profit. Therefore, the cooperative's money should be invested in work, from which not only the invested amount but also something more can be recovered, and with this surplus - profit - various needs, including the repayment of old debts, are then satisfied."

Therefore, the Alliance was against using cooperative loans to refinance old debts. Instead, they advocated investing money in new production that would bring a profit to the members, enough to repay both the cooperative's debt and the members' old debts.

On the other hand, farmers from Arač pointed out in their correspondence with the Alliance that there was not enough land available for lease in their village, and thus, they would not be able to increase their production. However, the Alliance's response stated that the members of the Arač Cooperative already had their own land and property and had lived off that land and work. It was a good thing that farmers from Arač had established the Cooperative because they would always have guidance, support, and advice from the Alliance, and they could turn to the Alliance at any time.

At the end of November, the Alliance reminded the cooperatives in Arač that they would no longer accept any letter unless it was properly sealed and signed by authorized persons according to the instructions they received. During this period, the Alliance also signaled to the cooperatives that original cooperative documents should no longer be sent by mail, only certified copies, while the originals should be kept in the Cooperative's archive.

Just ten days later, at the beginning of December 1909, the Alliance informed the Arač Cooperative that, at a meeting of the Alliance's Board of Directors, it was decided to admit the Arač Cooperative as a member of the Alliance and to approve a credit of 3,000 kuna for them to start with. This was the minimum amount approved for the beginning until they demonstrated "in action, in order, in the increase in the number of members, as well as in matters of interest to the Alliance." Interest and 10 kuna as an entry fee were paid on the approved credit.

In principle, the Alliance informed the Arač Cooperative that for each loan of 2,000 kuna, 105 kuna were paid for shares and entry fees. For loans between 2,000 and 4,000 kuna, 210 kuna were paid, for loans between 4,000 and 6,000 kuna, 315 kuna were paid, and so on. Paid shares were capitalized every year and remained the property of the Alliance.

Regarding the loans granted to the Arač Cooperative, the rule was as follows: "A specified loan may be exhausted and given in the sense of the Rules only to members and only for agricultural purposes, i.e., those that are really necessary and indispensable for their improvement and their economy, and also unconditionally beneficial. You will have to account for this, especially during the revision (inspection of the cooperative)."

To ensure timely payments of installments and the repayment of the loan, the Alliance requested that the cooperatives send promissory notes. A completed promissory note was sent to the cooperatives as an example, and the cooperatives were obliged to fill out their promissory notes for the Alliance and to learn how to fill out promissory notes in general. Completed promissory notes were to be sent by mail. The speed at which the business of the Alliance and the Cooperative was conducted is evident from the fact that the Arač Cooperative requested a loan on December 5, the Alliance requested a promissory note on December 7, the Arač Cooperative sent a promissory note on December 8 of the same month, and the settlement was sent two days later. Every loan had to be approved by the Cooperative's Board of Directors, and the Alliance had to inform the manager of the Arač Cooperative personally.

Members of the Arač Cooperative wanted to admit new members to their cooperative at the end of the year, so they asked the Alliance for precise instructions on the admission procedure. They received a response on December 10, 1909. New members of the Arač Cooperative had to fulfill the following conditions:
1. Write an application for membership.
2. The application had to be positively resolved by the Board of Directors of the Agricultural Cooperative.
3. The new member had to sign the application and the original Rules printed for all members.
4. Pay 4 kuna for the entry fee.

After fulfilling these conditions, the new member would acquire all the rights that all old members had.

Towards the end of the year, the Alliance informed which documents needed to be prepared for the audit. These were the Final Account, the List of Bonds, and the Cooperative's Property with a status as of December 31, 1909. If these documents were not prepared on time, the cost of retaining the auditor would be borne by the Board of Directors and the Supervisory Board as responsible for the Cooperative's work. As a relief for the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač as a newly established company, they did not have to close the books immediately, but they only had to leave one entire blank page in the First Ledger, in the Receipts Journal, and in the Issued Journal for the closure, and the auditor would close and teach them "how to make the closing" and that the Regular General Assembly would not be held until the audit was completed. At the same time, the members were informed that by the end of March 1910, they had to prepare the Final Account, the Valuation Report, and the Minutes of the Regular General Assembly. In accordance with the provisions of the Trade Law, a Report on the status of the Cooperative in the fourth quarter of 1909 and an Alphabetical Directory of the Cooperative members by December 21, 1909, had to be made immediately.

From that founding year, the Cooperative Archive has preserved

the Cooperative Property from 1909.

1. Serial number
2. Name and surname of the Cooperative member
3. Occupation
4. How many people live in their house? (This column is filled in only at the end of the year.)
5. Is he literate or illiterate? (This column is filled in only at the end of the year.) L / IL
6. How much land does he have? Acres / Square yards
7. Value: Land, House, Movables, Total. L / M
8. Debts: Registered, Unregistered, Total. L / M
Data were filled in for each individual Cooperative member, and in the Arač Agricultural Cooperative that year, there were 16 members, including:
- Bogoljub Malešev had 34 acres of land (L),
- Dušan Vujackov had 4 acres and 2 square yards (L),
- Isak Tomašev had 3 acres of land (L),
- Miloš Isakov had no land (L),
- Živa Malešev had 8 acres of land (L),
- Živko Pejin had 2 acres (L),
- Nikola Tomašev had no land (L),
- Cveta Laušin had one acre (L),
- Mladen Mirkov had no land (IL),
- Nova Garčev had no land (L),
- Živa Garčev had no land (L),
- Dušan Jerkov had 16 acres of land (L),
- Vlada Isakov had no land (IL),
- Laza Rankov had no land (L),
- Jovan Maušin had no land (IL),
- Đura Dologušin had no land (L).
A report on the current account status of the Arač Agricultural Cooperative was sent to the Tax Office in Turkish Bečej, today's Novi Bečej, to determine the amount of tax. This concluded the year.

Somewhat later, on March 4, 1910, the Alliance wrote to the Arač Agricultural Cooperative recommending that they do not send any of the documents requested by the Chamber of Commerce in Timișoara, nor respond to their letters, especially not to send them information about their work. It is evident that this concerned issues of jurisdiction in which the Arač Agricultural Cooperative did not navigate well.

In addition to regular tasks related to loans, reporting to the Alliance, and other competent authorities, according to archive data, the Arač Agricultural Cooperative took 6 acres of land from Milica Pavlović in lease on March 20, 1910, and paid 470 kuna in cash for that land. On May 1 of the same year, they rented one department in Milutin Pajić's house for themselves for accommodation at a price of 70 kuna per year for a period of three years. At the end of May 1910, a letter arrived from a certain Emin Čolić, a mixed-goods trader from Bijeljina, who wanted to buy baskets from the Arač Agricultural Cooperative, which they advertised in the Privrednik magazine.

The question arises as to how the Union collected debts from its members. The answer can be found in the circular letter of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative Union (SZZ) in Arač, dated July 3, 1910. In this letter, farmers were instructed to sell their products and use the proceeds to repay their debts to the cooperative. The cooperative, in turn, was expected to use that money to settle its obligations with the Union. This letter was to be read to the farmers, who were then required to inform the Union of their reaction within three weeks. Failure to comply meant that the cooperative would be unable to obtain further credit from the Union, and the debt would have to be paid in cash.

In the same month, the Union informed all member cooperatives that only an excerpt from the minutes, rather than the entire record, should be sent to the Union regarding decisions on representation at the Congress of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative Union in Zagreb in 1910. Only representatives following this procedure would have the right to vote, while all others were welcome as guests at the congress.

It wasn't until August 30, 1910, that the Union decided to approve an increase in the credit for SZZ in Arač from 3,000 to 5,000 krunas. In September, SZZ in Arač received a letter with questions that were to be discussed at the Congress of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative Union in Zagreb in 1910. However, three days later, another letter arrived, stating that the Congress had been postponed indefinitely due to a decision by the local police.

The uncertain times and the urgent need for money are reflected in a warning sent to farmers in the form of a circular letter. The Union reminded farmers that the time for selling agricultural products was passing, urging them to submit reports on loan repayments and the status of bond repayments.

One significant principle conveyed to all farmers, including SZZ in Arač, was the recommendation to keep cooperatives out of politics. Farmers were advised to act according to their beliefs within the boundaries of the law, maintaining the political neutrality of cooperatives.

In the following years, the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač operated in a more or less similar manner. Farmers obtained credit, repaid it, sent promissory notes, and maintained documentation. The Arač cooperative received warnings to keep better records, improve management, and, notably, ensure that the Supervisory Board met at least four times a year to review the entire cooperative's operations, a requirement that was apparently not met.

Apart from addressing financial issues, cooperatives aimed to educate their members. In 1911, SZZ in Arač received four pictures from the Union illustrating the harmful effects of alcoholism, emphasizing the severity of the problem in rural areas.

The correspondence also reveals that cooperatives served additional functions. They facilitated the purchase of educational materials, such as books and calendars, and coordinated the procurement of agricultural seeds. The cooperative was involved in activities beyond financial matters, promoting education, health, and sobriety among its members.

The economic crisis deepened in 1912, leading all cooperatives to carefully manage their operations and stay current on debt repayments. Despite this, SZZ in Arač received a letter expressing dissatisfaction with its performance, as membership was declining instead of increasing. The cooperative was criticized for its lack of clear goals and direction.

In March 1913, the Union reduced the credit for SZZ in Arač from 5,000 to 3,000 krunas due to the decline in membership and poorly managed finances. A month later, SZZ in Arač held its Regular General Assembly, where a manager was elected. However, the manager's name was mistakenly omitted from the minutes. A subsequent Extraordinary General Assembly was convened to rectify this mistake and provide documentation with the correct information.

The challenging times for SZZ in Arač are further evidenced in correspondence with the Union in the fall of 1913. The Union warned the cooperative about the ongoing crisis and emphasized the need to preserve credit, cautioning against unnecessary borrowing. The Union predicted that everyone would need money, especially in the spring, and advised cooperatives to manage their finances prudently.

The outbreak of World War I in 1914 marked a turning point, affecting households, institutions, and the entire cooperative system in the southern regions of Austria-Hungary, including the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative Union based in Zagreb. After the war, SZZ in Arač underwent many changes, impacting leadership, business practices, and even the cooperative's name.

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