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Agricultural co-op sales, revenue up

Dallas Tonsager

Dallas Tonsager

U.S. farm, ranch and fishery cooperatives posted record sales and income in 2011, surpassing the previous record sales year of 2008 by $10 billion and the old income record by $500 million, Agriculture Undersecretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager, announced today.

Tonsager released USDA’s annual list of the 100 top co-ops, kicking off National Cooperative Month. Co-op job levels remained strong, he said, employing 184,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, up slightly from 2010.

“Primarily because of mergers, the number of farm co-ops continued to decline, but memberships and asset values are up,” he added.

The 2,285 surveyed cooperatives had sales of $213 billion, exceeding 2010 sales by more than $40 billion. Net income before taxes for all agricultural co-ops was a record $5.4 billion, eclipsing the previous high of $4.9 billion, set in 2008. Net income was up more than 25 percent, or $1 billion, from 2010.

The list of the 100 top ag co-ops showed that CHS Inc., St. Paul, Minn. — an energy, farm supply, grain and food organization — was once again the nation’s largest, with $36.9 billion in revenue in 2011. It was followed by Dairy Farmers of America, Kansas City, Mo., with $12.9 billion in revenue. DFA traded places from 2010 with third-ranked Land O’ Lakes Inc., St. Paul, Minn., a dairy, food and farm supply co-op, with $12.8 billion in revenue in 2011.

Iowa is home to 14 of the top 100 ag co-ops, the most of any state, USDA said. It is followed by Minnesota with 13, Nebraska with 10, California with six and Wisconsin with five.

The biggest gains on the list were made by cotton cooperatives, due primarily to sharply higher cotton prices in 2011.

Carolinas Cotton Growers Cooperative, Garner, N.C., made the largest jump, rising from 129 in 2010 to 71 on the 2011 list. It was followed by Calcot Ltd., Bakersfield, Calif., which climbed from 131 in 2010 to 85 in 2011.

The next eight biggest gainers on the list were all grain or mixed (grain and farm supply) co-ops, due largely to high grain prices.

The total farm co-op workforce of 184,000 was up slightly from 2010. While full-time jobs at co-ops increased by 1,800, the number of part-time and seasonal employees declined by 1,600.