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