GROWMARK Hosts French Cooperative

Cindy Zimmerman

In the spirit of cooperation between cooperatives, Illinois-based GROWMARK hosted leaders from the French cooperative Terrena last week as part of a 12-day tour of United States agriculture.

“We were approached by the tour leader about coordinating an exchange of ideas between the Terrena leadership and GROWMARK’s leadership,” said Chuck Spencer, GROWMARK director, Government Affairs. “Because our agricultural products compete in a global marketplace, we saw great value in having a discussion with our counterparts at Terrena to learn more about agricultural market conditions and ag supply and product infrastructure in the European Union, which will ultimately benefit our members.”

The visitors from Terrena toured the Stone Ridge Dairy near Mansfield and One Earth Energy in Gibson City. Following the tours, a luncheon was served on a nearby farm and GROWMARK senior management and board members talked about cooperative structure and governance. Dr. Aslihan Spaulding of Illinois State University also shared her research on food trends with the group.

“One of the questions we were asked was our view of cooperatives here in the United States, and we certainly see a strong need and role for cooperative businesses, especially in agriculture,” said Rick Nelson, GROWMARK vice chairman of the board. “Terrena has the same view, and we definitely had a connection with them in recognizing the services cooperatives provide to farmers.”

Terrena serves more than 22,000 farmers in France. Its business units include grains, livestock, viticulture, and horticulture. It also supplies meat, dairy, and wine products to market under several private brands.

Thanks to GROWMARK’s Karen Jones for providing us with the story and photos!