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.

Serbian Peasant Cooperative in Vranjevo Between the Two World Wars

Serbian Peasant Cooperative in Vranjevo Between the Two World Wars

Between the two world wars, three types of cooperatives were present in Serbia: credit cooperatives, procurement and sales cooperatives, and production-consumer cooperatives (vineyard-winery, fruit, dairy, livestock, meadow-pasture, beekeeping, hemp, machinery, etc.). Credit cooperatives emerged in response to the need for favorable agricultural loans to accelerate the transition from natural to commodity agricultural production. Procurement and sales cooperatives were formed during the time of the Great Depression, which culminated in Yugoslavia after 1932, due to increased pressure from commercial capital and constant shortages of their own resources. These cooperatives sought to meet the growing needs of rural households first and then agricultural farms. It will be seen that the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač faced similar problems as its members.

A possession of cooperators from January 31, 1914, has been preserved, based on which the assets of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač before the First World War can be determined, as well as an authorization for Nova Pejin in Hungarian issued on April 29, 1914. When the First World War broke out, the activities of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač decreased, and correspondence was preserved to a much lesser extent compared to the pre-war period. This does not mean that every activity stopped. According to the Statement of the current account of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač on June 30, 1914, it had a claim of 31.30 crowns, while according to the same statement, it had a debt of 18 crowns on June 30, 1918. This would be impossible if there had been no activity on the account during these four years.

Earlier, on June 2, 1918, a document from the Alliance in Zagreb arrived at the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač, stating that due to the wartime conditions, normal work was not possible, nor could the cooperatives send valuations to the Alliance to accurately determine the amount of taxes. Therefore, the Ministry of Finance from Budapest would temporarily exempt the cooperatives from the obligation to send valuations, but, in return, each cooperative would have to deposit a certain amount of money with the Royal Tax Office, and later, it would be calculated as a tax payment. If the cooperative could not solve this on its own, it was ordered to contact the Alliance, which would do it for them.

On November 18, 1919, the Alliance asked cooperatives not to send money to the Alliance through individuals but to deposit it through the Central Credit Institute based in Novi Sad as a Branch of the Serbian Bank. On December 12, 1919, it was emphasized not to send individuals to Zagreb but, in case of problems, to try to resolve everything through correspondence first.

In 1919, Instructions for the Reconstruction of Work in Agricultural Procurement Cooperatives were published in Belgrade, from which it can be seen that the headquarters of the Alliance was moved from Zagreb to Belgrade, and detailed instructions were given to cooperators on how to renew the work of cooperatives. The introduction states the following:
"The renewal of cooperatives is necessary, especially for the supply of cooperators with tools, livestock, cloth, canvas, cotton, thread, footwear, soap, and other essential products because the supply of rural life will be carried out only through Agricultural Cooperatives. The main Agricultural Procurement Cooperative has already prepared everything to obtain the mentioned products from large cooperative institutions in England and America, which have wholeheartedly - cooperatively - responded to our Cooperative. Now, when heartless speculators have managed to plunder the village with excessive prices and poor goods and bind the peasant with their capitalist networks and chains forever, only Agricultural Cooperatives can help and save the village and the peasant.
Cooperators are well aware of this."
This passage today seems more like a political pamphlet than a cooperative work instruction, but the time in which it was created justified such a communication between the Alliance and individual cooperatives. The text is signed on behalf of the Alliance by Mih. Avramović and S. M. Lozanić on Preobraženje in Belgrade.

The fiscal period of the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač ended with 33 crowns and 50 heller on the current account according to the Statement of the Royal Tax Office dated May 7, 1920. On June 8, 1920, a letter arrived at the SZZ in Arač recommending cooperatives to subscribe to the book "Land to the Farmer!" by Radoslav Marković, while the Cooperative subscribed to four copies of the Serbian Cooperative calendar.

Towards the end of the year, on November 19, 1920, the Velikobečkerečki Judicial Council of the Kingdom of SHS issued a decision that provided new data about the company Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač and its management, which at that time included Dragolјub Malešev

ić, Milinko Ignjatović, Gavrilo Mitić, Gavrilović, Jovan Milosavlјević, Milan Milosavlјević, Milan Savković, Petar Bogunović, Vlada Milanov and Luka Pantić. The same day, a decision was reached to register the company, which was signed by a judge and secretary, but it was not stated who the secretary was. The registration decision stated that the Cooperative operated in the village of Arač and had its headquarters there. The decision stated that the Cooperative also operates a kafana, but its activities are not stated. The cooperative was registered in the Cooperative Register on January 20, 1921, under No. 8.

On December 1, 1920, the Cooperatives in the Kingdom of SHS were asked by the Royal Ministry of Social Policy and Health to send data on all cooperatives. The information should contain data on the year of establishment, the place of establishment, the number of members, the type of cooperative, the type of business, the business result for 1919/20 and 1920/21, data on the size of the property, liabilities and the amount of shares.

The Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač sent the requested data on January 4, 1921, but did not state the year of establishment and the business result for 1919/20 and 1920/21. On January 25, 1921, a document arrived in Arač stating that the Cooperatives had to pay a registration fee of 10 crowns for the Royal Ministry of Social Policy and Health. The fee should be deposited with the Royal Tax Office, and the Tax Office will issue a confirmation of the payment to the Cooperatives. This document arrived at the Cooperative in Arač on February 9, 1921, and the cooperatives were given a 15-day deadline to pay the fee.

On December 6, 1920, the Alliance sent a circular to all cooperatives warning them that they could no longer be exempted from paying customs duties and other taxes on cooperative imports. Therefore, the Alliance asked the cooperatives to declare how many members they had and to submit the data requested by the Royal Ministry of Social Policy and Health. The requested data should be sent to the Alliance as soon as possible.

On January 20, 1921, the Alliance sent a circular to all cooperatives stating that the Rijeka Customs Administration had issued a circular, which states that cooperatives that were engaged in the procurement of products for agriculture and life in general were no longer exempted from paying customs duties and taxes. The Alliance asked cooperatives to declare the number of members, type of cooperative, its location, business result and the amount of property, liabilities and shares by February 5, 1921. It was emphasized that the information should be sent to the Alliance in an informative and accurate form, and that the answers should be written with indelible ink.

On December 28, 1920, the Alliance sent a circular to all cooperatives stating that it had received a large quantity of pamphlets "Agricultural Rebirth of Serbia" by Radoslav Marković, which are available at the price of 2 crowns each. The pamphlet was advertised in the circular as an indispensable auxiliary means for renewing the work of cooperatives, and was recommended to be included in the cooperative library.

On January 25, 1921, the Alliance sent a circular to all cooperatives stating that the Alliance was entering into an agreement with the Royal Tax Office in Belgrade to deposit money collected from the cooperatives into a joint account with the Royal Tax Office. In this circular, the Alliance also recommended that the Cooperatives transfer the account from the Central Credit Institute in Novi Sad to the Royal Tax Office in Belgrade, which is also specified as a joint account. The Alliance also asked the cooperatives to inform the Alliance about the date of payment to the Royal Tax Office. In the same circular, cooperatives were ordered to notify the Alliance about the deposit of the registration fee in the Royal Tax Office and to attach a confirmation of the payment, and at the same time, it was stated that cooperatives were exempted from paying this fee only for the first year of work.

In March 1921, the cooperation sent a letter to cooperatives with a request to pay off their debts to the Alliance as soon as possible and a recommendation to place their products in the warehouse at the Alliance in Zagreb. Cooperatives were instructed to send products to the Alliance only when they had completed an agreement with the Alliance on the sale of products. In the same letter, cooperatives were asked to state how much cooperatives could deliver on the basis of the list of the Alliance, whether the cooperatives had difficulties to meet their obligations to the Alliance and what the reasons were. The Alliance emphasized in the letter that the cooperatives were obliged to deliver products to the Alliance and that it was agreed that the products would be taken over by the Cooperatives without any problems.

The Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač received a document in December 1920 stating that, due to the high price of the Serbian Cooperative calendar for 1921, it could not be published in 5,000 copies, as it was planned, but in 3,000 copies. The Alliance also stated that it had issued a special voucher for 3,000 crowns to the printers of the calendar. On March 15, 1921, a request arrived at the Cooperative to pay a fee for the publication of the calendar, and on April 8, 1921, the SZZ in Arač deposited the fee for the publication of the calendar with the Royal Tax Office in Belgrade.

According to the Statement of the Royal Tax Office in Belgrade, the Serbian Agricultural Cooperative in Arač had a debt of 330 crowns on December 31, 1920, which it paid off on January 25, 1921. As for the donation of the Cooperatives, it was transferred to the Central Cooperative of Gendarmes and Gendarmes in Belgrade, and then to the Royal Ministry of Social Policy and Health. On March 15, 1921, a document arrived at the Cooperative in Arač, in which the Ministry of Social Policy and Health confirmed that it had received the donation.

On March 8, 1921, the Alliance sent a circular to all cooperatives stating that it was moving to the building of the Royal Ministry of Social Policy and Health and that the Alliance had already rented the building of the Central Cooperative for State Employees in Belgrade at 43 Knez Miloš Street. The Alliance asked all cooperatives to send the Alliance products for sale only if the cooperatives had completed the sales agreement. The same day, the Cooperative in Arač received a circular stating that the Alliance had moved to the building of the Royal Ministry of Social Policy and Health at 1 Carigradska Street in Belgrade.

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