Several explanations for merger activity exist for publicly traded firms, but none consider the unique aspects of cooperatives. This study develops a test for the hypothesis that cooperative consolidation occurs primarily in response to capital constraints associated with a lack of access to external equity capital. An empirical model estimates the shadow value of long-term investment capital within a multinomial logit model of transaction choice in a panel data set of the 100 largest U.S. cooperatives. The results substantially confirm the capital-constraint hypothesis. Thus, the primary implication is that internal growth may be a more viable alternative to consolidation if new forms of cooperative financing are developed.