Generate Event for Next Generation of Co-op Leaders

Generate PhotoGenerate is a new Wheat Growers program dedicated to “growing the most important crop of all, our next generation of cooperative farm leaders.” Those words from Wheat Growers CEO Dale Locken summed up the first Generate event, held in Aberdeen on Friday, March 14. Wheat Growers hosted the event in cooperation with Mitchell Technical Institute and the South Dakota Center for Farm and Ranch Management.

“We are committed to providing the best products and services for our members and also the best farm business insights, knowledge and advice,” Locken said.

The agenda included farm programs with an overview of programs and options available, a financial session, and sessions on production, risk management, managing producer risk and safety. The programs were developed in coordination with Mitchell Technical Institute and the South Dakota Center for Farm and Ranch Management.

There were 22 Wheat Growers Emerging Farm Leaders at the full-day event, including Scott Anderson from Andover, S.D., and Jamason Larson from Langford, S.D.

Anderson found special value in the risk management session and said the event was a good opportunity to get ready for the planting season. “After the winter, it’s always good to get a refresher of things to think about and to keep at the front of your mind when you’re getting back into full-force farming again.”

Larson thought the sessions were very informative. “They covered a lot of things and got me thinking about some important areas like record keeping, giving me an idea of how to break things down to the field level, which I don’t always do.”

“The theme of this event was Cultivating the Future,” Dale Locken said. “The positive input we received from this event will help Wheat Growers develop more forward-looking programs that we hope will reach even more of our next generation of farmers.”

Miss Missouri at MFA Annual Mtg.

Shelby and Don MillsWelcoming us to the start of the MFA, Inc. annual meeting is Don Mills, Chairman of the Board. He’s pictured here with Shelby Ringdahl, current Miss Missouri. Shelby will be signing the National Anthem for us.

I spoke to both of them prior to the start of today’s activities. Shelby says she’s seen a lot of local companies come and go already in her life and to be able to be on stage with MFA celebrating 100 yrs. is “wonderful.”

You can listen to my interview with Shelby here: Interview with Shelby Ringdahl

Don is a beef cattle farmer from Southwest Missouri. He’s been Chairman of the MFA board for 4 years and says he has as fun job today. On the program will be Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Senator Roy Blunt.

You can listen to my interview with Don here to learn more about MFA and how it is celebrating 100 years: Interview with Don Mills

MFA, Inc. 100 Yrs. Annual Mtg. Photo Album

GROWMARK Supports Kleckner Fellowship

One of the many ways that GROWMARK participates in the World Food Prize Borlaug Dialogue is through support of the Truth About Trade and Technology (TATT)Kleckner Fellowship.

wfp13-karenGROWMARK Corporate Relations Specialist Karen Jones attended the World Food Prize events for the first time this year, the first time they have helped sponsor the fellowship, which was created last year in honor of retiring TATT chairman Dean Kleckner. “Just being here for the first time has been pretty amazing because there are so many people here all united under the same goal to talk about and try to solve some of these problems that affect our global neighbors,” she said.

Karen says the cooperative also supports the efforts of Farmers Feeding the World. Interview with GROWMARK's Karen Jones

raviThe Kleckner Fellowship and Trade & Technology Advancement Award was awarded this year to Indian farmer Ravichandran “Ravi” Vanchinathan. The Kleckner Fellowship was endowed to support at least one global farmer’s participation each year in the Global Farmer Roundtable and Ravi was the first. The Kleckner Trade & Technology Advancement Award recognizes “strong leadership, vision, and resolve in advancing the rights of all farmers to choose the technology and tools that will improve the quality, quantity, and availability of agricultural products around the world.”

2013 TATT Global Farmer Roundtable photos

2013 World Food Prize photos

GROWMARK Highlights National Co-op Month

Growmark_logoOur friends at GROWMARK are joining cooperatives throughout the country in celebrating the contributions co-ops make to the social and economic development of rural America during National Co-op Month in October.

CoopMonth20131This year’s theme is “Collaborate, Communicate, Cooperate,” reflecting the benefits that arise from collaboration – the sharing of ideas, resources and capital which helps individuals accomplish more together than they would on their own.

Nearly 3,000 farmer cooperatives, like GROWMARK, FS, and grain member cooperatives, account for as many as 300,000 jobs worldwide and a total payroll of more than $8 billion.

Cooperatives operate under a set of guidelines known as the cooperative principles. Doing business with the values of voluntary and open membership, democratic member control, members’ economic participation, autonomy and independence, education, training, and information, cooperation among cooperatives, and concern for community sets cooperatives apart and inspires loyalty and commitment from their member owners.

The more than 29,000 cooperatives across America generate 2 million jobs and $652 billion in sales with assets of $3 trillion. The GROWMARK System itself employs more than 7,000 people serving 250,000 customers.

Results from GROWMARK Annual Meeting

growmarklogoLast week GROWMARK held their Annual Meeting to discuss the year-end financial results and carry out other business for the cooperative. Business units produced record sales for the 2013 fiscal year, which ended August 31.

I spoke with CEO of GROWMARK, Jeff Solberg, and he reported estimated sales of $10.3 billion for fiscal year 2013. Pretax income is estimated at $220 million, which signifies one of the best years in company history. An estimated $135 million in patronage refunds will be returned to GROWMARK member cooperatives and farmer-owners.

“We began this year coming off a severe drought, but the strength of the FS System pulled us through to a very good 2013 fiscal year. Our business is built around our mission to improve the long-term profitability of our member owners. Our sales will allow us to return significant patronage to our owners. We remain committed to their success and to the unity of our cooperative system.”

Dr. Michael Cook, executive director of the Graduate Institute of Cooperative Leadership at the University of Missouri, was awarded the “Friend of GROWMARK” award. The award recognizes outstanding leadership and commitment to agriculture and the GROWMARK System.

New leadership among the GROWMARK community was also announced. John Reifsteck was elected chairman of the GROWMARK Board of Directors. He replaced retiring Dan Kelley. John has served on the board since 1993 and was one of two vice chairmen. Rick Nelson and Chet Esther were elected the new vice chairmen and Bob Phelps was elected Secretary.

Listen to my interview with Jeff here: Interview with Jeff Solberg

An On The Farm Full Service Provider

fps-13-673-editedGROWMARK, along with FS had a strong presence at the recent Farm Progress Show in Decatur, IL. No matter where you went it was hard to escape the view of an FS flag waving high in the sky. Not only were they again sponsors of fuel used throughout the grounds, but they also gave a hands-on view of all the companies product divisions.

On the coolest day of the Farm Progress Show I visited the FS booth and spoke with Jenny Haycraft, who works in marketing and communications for the company. She shared what attendees were able to take in during the event and how FS is a full line service provider on the farm. This includes needs in energy, lubricants, propane, agronomy, seed and in precision farming.


“Throughout the exhibit we have designated areas for primary product divisions. We’ve got agronomy, seed, grain systems and energy. There are interactive games for attendees to play and learn a little bit about our products and services we offer in each area. And then once they play the game we can interact with them as much as possible and see if they are current customers or potential prospects.”

Listen to my interview with Jenny here: Interview with Jenny Haycraft

Check out photos from the event here: 2013 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 Farm Progress show is sponsored by Bayer CropScience, Growmark and New Holland

Fueling the Farm Progress Show

fps-13-685-editedYou can only imagine the fuel consumption during the Farm Progress Show. GROWMARK and FS have sponsored the fuel for the largest outdoor farm show for the last 30 years and expect to go through about 2,500 gallons this year. That amount is down from previous years because the field demonstrations had to be cancelled.

Gerald Doty retired from the cooperative seven years ago and was asked to come back and run the fueling station. He eagerly agreed to do a it for three years, but has been here ever since. Gerald said it was a great opportunity for him to stay in-touch with the industry.

“GROWMARK and FS have sponsored fuel for the Farm Progress Show for over 30 years. Typically they would get 50 gallons of free fuel in exchange for us putting a fueled by FS sticker on their equipment, but this year because there wasn’t any field demonstrations we have cut that back to 25 gallons. Here we do this in cooperation with Evergreen FS. Evergreen FS takes care of all the fuel needs inside the fences and we take care of the equipment they need for demonstrations and golf carts.”

Listen to my interview with Gerald here: Interview with Gerald Doty

Check out photos from the event here:2013 Farm Progress Show Photo Album

Coverage of the 2013 Farm Progress show is sponsored by Bayer CropScience, Growmark and New Holland

GROWMARK FS Websites Get Updates

fs-growmarkThe 35 FS member cooperatives of the GROWMARK system are getting updated websites to better serve their customers and farmer-owners.

“Technology’s changed so much we really wanted to be able to give our members as much of an advantage with their websites as possible,” said Jana Kiefer, GROWMARK Electronic Communications Coordinator, who noted that they have been in the website business with member co-ops for over 15 years now.

Jana says the new platform for the websites allows for both continuity and individuality for the cooperatives. “We like our members to have the same type of theme but at the same time to be able to individualize their sites to fit their customer base,” she said. “So with that we’ve developed templates that members can choose from to build their site.”

The websites will be retaining the important information they have had for the past decade, including weather and markets, while adding the latest social media components like Facebook and Twitter. “Many members have their own Facebook pages that they populate and some are tweeting,” said Jana. “It’s becoming more popular, it’s becoming easier.”

Gold Star FS
and West Central FS have already gone live with their new sites and more are on the way.

Find out more about the GROWMARK FS website update in this interview with Jana: Interview with Jana Kiefer, GROWMARK

iPad-Conrolled Drones at Landmark

Landmark Services CooperativeTaking your iPad out in the field to fly a drone sounds like a lot of fun. It definitely is for an agnerd! This “fun” activity is becoming a business task more and more. The agronomists at Landmark Services Cooperative are getting in on the fun by using tablet-controlled drones for field scouting. One of the advantages this provides is quicker scouting times (up to 60% time savings) which means detecting problems faster. I talked with Dan Moehn, VP, Landmark Agronomy, about their use of this new technology. He says they just started using the drones at the beginning of this growing season. While controlling the drone from the tablet they fly to a height of about 100 feet depending on wind conditions which have a real impact on the small devices. The drone can be spun 360 degrees and captures photos and/or video of a lot of ground. Once landed he says they take an immediate look at what conditions look like.

Landmark Agronomy Drone“Whenever you see a field from a different perspective, you’re able to pick up new information,” he says. “If you’re standing at the end of a corn field, you have one perspective but, when you get in the air, you can see a much larger view of the field and can quickly spot areas that need attention.”

Agronomists traditionally scout fields by walking the length of the acreage and looking for problems – a process that may allow for areas to be missed or additional time spent.

“We look at that footage and evaluate the field, looking for any problem spots,” Moehn says. “If we see an area of crop that has signs of a disease or nutrient deficiency, we can then walk to that area of the field and take a closer look.

“The more scouting we can do, the more probable it is that we’ll see problems before they become bigger than they need to be,” Moehn says. “Preventing problems in the field is especially beneficial in a market where every bushel counts.”

You can listen to my interview with Dan here: Interview with Dan Moehn

Farmer Cooperatives on the Hill

It’s a great week for the National Council of Farmers Cooperatives to be holding its annual Washington Conference with all that is going on in the nation’s capitol impacting the agriculture industry.

ncfc-dc-13GROWMARK Executive Director of Corporate and Government Relations Chuck Spencer called me from DC this morning to talk about what they are discussing on the Hill and of course the main topic is the farm bill which the full Senate passed last night. “I think a lot of agriculture is supportive of the Senate farm bill program,” he said. “They have the provisions in there that would provide risk management programs that farmers have utilized very successfully” particularly last year during one of the worst droughts in history.

Members of the GROWMARK executive committee will be visiting with lawmakers in the House this afternoon to urge them to get a farm bill passed as well. “The House does have more of a potential for challenge to the farm bill so there may be a tremendous amount of debate regarding food and nutrition programs,” Chuck said, noting that the House bill does have language eliminating the duplicative permitting process for applying crop protection products. “We’ve got to see a farm bill passed. We’ve put it off one year. We need to get to conference committee, strike a compromise so we can have good farm business plans put into place for the next few years.”

The cooperatives also have a big interest in comprehensive immigration reform on the Senate floor this week. “The National Council of Farmer Cooperatives have worked very closely with all of agriculture … to forge a compromise that will pass the Senate and we hope to see it pass the House,” said Chuck. The coops meeting in Washington represent a wide range of agricultural interests that depend on foreign farm labor, including fruit and vegetable growers, dairy producers and the seed corn industry.

Listen to my interview with Chuck here: GROWMARK's Chuck Spencer

Coalition Pleased With Immigration Bill

Representatives from both agricultural employers and farm labor are pleased with guest worker provisions included in the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act introduced in the Senate yesterday.

awcLeaders from the Agriculture Workforce Coalition (AWC) held a press conference yesterday to highlight the stake American agriculture has in immigration reform. Late last week, a landmark agreement on immigration reform was reached by the AWC, the United Farm Workers (UFW), and key Senators.

The bill’s provisions for agriculture include a new “blue card” program for experienced farm workers, and improvements to the current agricultural worker visa program.

Participating in the news conference were National Council of Farmer Cooperatives president Chuck Conner, National Milk Producers president Jerry Kozak, Western Growers Association president Tom Nassif, United Fresh Produce Association president Tom Stenzel, Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association president Mike Stuart, U.S. Apple Association president Nancy Foster, and United Farm Workers President Arturo Rodriguez.

Listen to or download here: AWC press conference

FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative Has New Logo

dairyFarmFirst Dairy Cooperative board of directors recently unveiled its new logo. The identity symbolizes the newly formed cooperative’s vision and commitment to its members.

The logo and brand identity were approved by the FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative’s board of directors and will be integrated throughout membership and marketing efforts as the new cooperative establishes its presence in the industry.

GROWMARK Cookbook Helps Feed the World

GROWMARK cooked up a great way to help farmers feed the world this year by compiling a cookbook filled with recipes contributed by GROWMARK employees and selling it to raise money for the an important charity.

“We wanted to do something special this year to promote the International Year of Cooperatives and GROWMARK’s 85th anniversary,” said Karen Jones, GROWMARK’s Publications and News Specialist, who explained that they came up with the idea for the cookbook as a way to allow everyone in the system to participate. “We decided it would be really neat if we could sponsor a charity with the proceeds from the cookbook and we decided on Farmers Feeding the World.

There are over 1100 recipes in the cookbook, which was sold for $20 each. “We are going to be making a donation of $1500 to Farmers Feeding the World in the next few weeks,” Karen said. “The organizations that Farmers Feeding the World helps out are organizations that we really believe it.”

Karen says there are no plans at the moment to do a second printing of the sold out cookbook, but the recipes are being made available through social media. “On our FS Pintrest boards, we do have a recipe board and we are posting recipes on there occasionally, so even if you didn’t get a chance to buy a book you can still get a few of the best recipes that way,” she said. To find those recipes, go to

Listen to my interview with Karen here: GROWMARK's Karen Jones

GROWMARK Iowa Media Tour Photos

GROWMARK Marks Record Sales

GROWMARK has officially reported record sales for the last fiscal year, according to recently released complete financial results.

Higher commodity prices and solid volume growth in most GROWMARK business units produced record sales for GROWMARK, as officials reported audited financial results for the fiscal year which ended August 31, 2012.

Marshall Bohbrink, vice president, finance, risk management, and chief financial officer, reported net sales of $10 billion for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the highest in company history. Net income attributable to GROWMARK was $243 million, the second highest level in history. Total patronage in the amount of $158 million was returned to GROWMARK member-owners, also a company record.

GROWMARK also shared a good amount of that income with an important program for education about agriculture.

GROWMARK and its FS member cooperatives recently renewed its commitment to Illinois Agriculture in the Classroom programs with $75,000 in support. At a recent meeting of the Illinois Farm Bureau Board of Directors, GROWMARK CEO Jeff Solberg shared thoughts on the GROWMARK System’s ongoing efforts to support agriculture and agriculture education and literacy.

“GROWMARK and Illinois Farm Bureau have an 85-plus year relationship of mutual respect and support. Teaching young people about agriculture has been a common bond throughout our historic relationship. As more Americans are further removed from the farm, bringing the facts about farming to students at an early age is vital,” Solberg said. “We are proud to support Illinois Farm Bureau’s Ag Literacy efforts, as they are at the forefront of bringing that message to students, who in turn share their new-found knowledge with their parents.”

The Advantage of AgVantage FS

The first stop on the GROWMARK media tour through Iowa last week was in the little town of Chapin, just south of Mason City, where the main work horse grain facility of AgVantage FS is located.

The facility handles 10-12 million bushels a year – about 40% of the co-op’s total. “We’re an operating division of GROWMARK,” explained Grain Marketing & Operations Manager Kevin Gray, pictured below left with regional grain manager Barney Bartels. “We cover 32 counties, 27 in Iowa and five in southeast Minnesota, stretching from the Mississippi River to Alexander on the west side.”

Kevin says the co-op covers a large geography with 14 grain elevator locations. “Customer service is the number one priority for us,” Kevin said. “We want to keep our customers profitable, we want to make sure they’re competitive, we try to reduce their risk and we want to make doing business with AgVantage grain division as comfortable and easy as possible.”

Listen to my interview with Kevin here: Interview with Kevin Gray

Despite the drought this year, the facility still managed to bring in quite a bit of grain, since the impact of the drought on the region can be summed up in one word – variable. “We’ve seen a range from 30 bushels per acre (corn) to basically 130 bushels per acre,” said Barney. “You go to the south, we’ve seen a range of 100-200 bushels an acre.”

Barney says the original bins at the Chapin facility were put up in 2003, with another 2.2 million bushels of space added in 2006. Grain from the AgVantage FS supplies a number of ethanol plants in the region and much of it is sent southwest for dairy markets.

Listen to my interview with Barney here: Interview with Barney Bartels

For more detail, listen to Kevin’s overview here: AgVantage FS Chapin Grain Facility

GROWMARK Iowa Media Tour Photos

GROWMARK Media Tour in Iowa

Just returned from a great media tour of GROWMARK and FS Cooperative facilities in Iowa. Unfortunately, I was unable to make the last stop due to flight scheduling, but I did get to attend the majority of the tour and it was fantastic! Congrats to Karen Jones, GROWMARK Publications and News Specialist, for putting together a very interesting and organized event.

Our stops in Iowa included the AgVantage FS grain facility in Chapin, the GROWMARK Ft. Dodge Fuel Terminal (where this photo was taken), and the brand new – soon to be opened – fertilizer facility in Stuart. The stop I missed was New Century FS in Vinton.

I got lots of great interviews to share in the coming days and weeks, as well as some I will be getting from my colleagues on the trip, but you can enjoy the photos now by clicking on the photo album link below. Thanks again to GROWMARK for allowing us this opportunity – it was a blast!

GROWMARK Iowa Media Tour Photos

Co-ops Announce Proposed Merger

The board of directors for Family Dairies USA, Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative and Milwaukee Cooperative Milk Producers have unanimously voted to recommend a unified merger for their membership. Combined, these three cooperatives could soon become the largest Midwest dairy marketing cooperative under the new name of FarmFirst Dairy Cooperative.

“We are extremely excited about the future this effort will offer our members,” says David Cooper, general manager for Family Dairies USA. “The combined size and strength of the new cooperative will provide all of our members with a deeper and broader voice in policy-making decisions, both locally and nationally. And, by combining the resources of three independent organizations, we will be able to improve efficiencies and effectiveness.”

“The timing of coming together could not be better,” adds Dennis Donohue, general manager of Manitowoc Milk Producers Cooperative. “The current, individual financial status of all three cooperatives is outstanding. This allows the new organization to start out on very strong footing, so that we can immediately focus on growing and improving member benefits.”

“Considerable due diligence has been done by each board,” says Jim Bird, general manager of Milwaukee Cooperative Milk Producers. “Our cooperatives have shared common goals and even collaborated in business together over the years. It is a natural progression. Now, we can combine efforts that will allow us to put more resources into critical member areas that will continue to build upon the 200-plus years of combined history we have.”

Informational meetings will be held by each cooperative’s membership over the next six weeks. The proposal to merge will be voted on by each membership in mid-December. If the merger passes, the new, combined cooperative will begin business function Jan. 1, 2013.

Under the new cooperative, the combined member representation will be divided into a total of nine districts, based on membership within each district. The current directors from each of the three cooperatives will transition into the new organization, helping ensure consistency in leadership and membership voice.

Family Dairies USA Milk Program and the Fox Valley Quality Control Laboratory will continue to operate as subsidiaries of the new cooperative.

Listen to this morning’s press conference with reps from each co-op answering questions about the merger:
FarmFirst Cooperative Announcement

Importance of Cooperatives in Feeding the World

“Co-operatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility.” Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General

That is a quote on the official United Nations 2012 International Year of Cooperatives web page and the UN Secretary General’s visit to the 2012 World Food Prize last week indicated the importance that they place on agricultural cooperatives in feeding the world. Agricultural cooperatives, already enriching millions of small-scale farmers, could expand and make an even greater contribution against poverty and hunger, according to the World Food Programme.

Amy Bradford with GROWMARK attended the World Food Prize last week to engage with attendees from over 70 countries and find out what more the Illinois-based farmer co-op can do to help increase global agricultural productivity. “We are involved in cooperative education, most recently in Ghana, working with local farmers there to form cooperatives,” Amy said. GROWMARK is also hosting a group of Brazilians this month to share with them how working together really does improve their long term profitability. “How it can help collaboration, how it can help them get the inputs they need to grow food for a growing population,” said Amy. “We help educate farmers and others about the value of cooperatives and what that brings to the table in terms of raising incomes and socioeconomic impact.”

I ran into Amy right after the Global Agricultural Productivity (GAP) report was released, and she said she would be sharing that report with GROWMARK farmer members to help them see areas of the world where they could help provide education on cooperatives. Incidentally, GROWMARK is also helping to feed the world with the GROWMARK cookbook which was sold for $20 each this year and proceeds donated to Farmers Feeding the World.

Listen to my interview with Amy from World Food Prize: Interview with Amy Bradford, GROWMARK

View the World Food Prize Photo Album here.

AgWired coverage of the World Food Prize is sponsored by Elanco

Celebrating National Co-op Month

ZimmCast 366Each October, cooperatives across the United States celebrate the cooperative difference, business model and the contributions of cooperatives to their communities during National Co-op Month and this year continues the celebration of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives with the slogan “Cooperative enterprises build a better world.”

As one of the nation’s largest cooperatives, GROWMARK has been celebrating all year long, so we talked with president and chairman of the board Dan Kelley about why co-ops are so important for agriculture, both nationally and globally. Dan says he was surprised to learn this year that nearly a billion people around the world are members of some type of cooperative. In addition to celebrating a year and a month dedicated to cooperatives, Dan says GROWMARK has been celebrating 85 years of existence as a cooperative.

Listen to this week’s ZimmCast with Dan here: ZimmCast with GROWMARK President Dan Kelley

We are also celebrating Co-op Month with our ZimmPoll this week, that asks What cooperatives play a role in your life/business?

Thanks to our ZimmCast sponsors, GROWMARK, locally owned, globally strong and Monsanto, Roundup Ready Plus, for their support.

The ZimmCast is the official weekly podcast of AgWired. Subscribe so you can listen when and where you want. Just go to our Subscribe page.

Farm Co-ops Set Records in 2011

October is National Cooperative Month and 2012 is the the United Nations International Year of Cooperatives, so it is extra special to celebrate record farm cooperative income in 2011.

USDA released the latest statistics today, showing that farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record sales of $213 billion and $5.4 billion in net income, surpassing the previous record sales year of 2008 by $10 billion while besting the old income record by $500 million.

“These new cooperative sales and income records for 2011 underscore the strength and productivity of the nation’s farmer- and rancher-owned cooperatives, and the vital role they play in the nation’s economy,” said Dallas Tonsager, under secretary for Rural Development. “Primarily because of mergers, the number of farm co-ops continued to decline, but memberships and asset values are up.” Tonsager also noted that co-op employment levels remained strong, with cooperatives employing 184,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, up slightly from 2010.

USDA’s annual list of the nation’s 100 largest agricultural cooperatives was also released today, showing combined revenue of $148 billion in 2011, an increase of almost 30 percent over 2010, when revenue totaled $113 billion. Net income for the 100 top co-ops was $3.17 billion, up from $2.35 billion in 2010. The previous top 100 co-op records were $130 billion for sales and $2.42 billion for income, both marks set in 2008.

The top five agricultural cooperatives remain unchanged from the previous year. CHS Inc., Saint Paul, Minn. – an energy, farm supply, grain and food co-op – was once again the nation’s largest ag co-op, 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. It 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.

Rounding out the top five, GROWMARK of Bloomington, Illinois remained in the number four spot with $8.7 billion in revenue and Ag Processing of Omaha with $4.4 billion.

Tonsager’s opening remarks and questions by USDA reporter Susan Carter: USDA Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager

More Tonsager’s press conference Q&A here: Dallas Tonsager Q&A