Coops – Owning Our Identity
Oct 18, 2023
The drought of summer has now opened the door to the beginning of harvest. As I write this article we have started taking in soybeans and even some corn into our grain facilities. It is always a joyous occasion to begin the harvest season and to realize the yield potential of all the hard work that has got us to this point. The preparation of spring, the growth of summer and the bounty of harvest certainly brings a sense of pride and purpose. Collectively coming together during this season makes the journey more rewarding and fulfilling.
Every October, we celebrate Cooperative month around the world. National Co-op Month is an annual opportunity to raise awareness of a trusted, proven way to do business and build communities. This year’s theme is “Owning Our Identity”. Webster describes identity as a distinguishing character, quality, or trait of something. The distinguishing character of Cooperatives really serves as a vital pillar of the U.S. economy and contribute essential goods and services to rural America and worldwide. Coops and their members are typically civically engaged and eager to contribute to the local economy. More than 30,000 cooperatives are operating in the country, and these coops account for nearly 2 million jobs and 350 million members. 1 in 3 Americans are cooperative members and those cooperatives generate more than $660 billion in annual revenue and possess 3 trillion dollars in assets. In the United States alone 2 million farmers are members of more than 2,100 farm supply cooperatives. Their sustainability and unique structure motivate thousands of people to start and join co-ops every year. The cooperative business module fosters a sense of belonging, community, and pride, oftentimes bringing underserved communities together to create and build wealth.
At United Cooperative, our distinguishing character “Our Identity” reflects one of strength, growth, profitability, and equity return to our members. This trait is demonstrated through the goods and services we provide, the jobs we create, the community investment we make, and the economic returns we provide through cash patronage dividends and our equity redemption revolvement program we deliver each year. Under the theme “Owning Our Identity,” this year’s theme is also a chance to leverage our shared cooperative identity in the face of some of the biggest challenges we face: supply chain and logistic issues, worldwide inflation, and market place disruptions. When I think about the identity of United Cooperative, I am reminded of the seven Cooperative Principles, which stand as the building blocks of our unique business model. Specifically, Democratic Member Control, Members Economic Participation, and Concern for Community, along with having a robust equity capital management program that provides value for the cooperative and its members.
One of our important qualities at United Cooperative, is investing in construction projects and facility upgrades, which has continued in 2023. These projects impact all our members economically by anticipating current and future needs, maintaining efficiencies, and adding value to every ton, gallon, or bushel we service. These upgrades are made possible by building back in the communities and for the farmers and members who place their trust and loyalty in United Cooperative. Below are some of the major construction projects that are complete or being completed:
Waupun - New feed mill construction facility will hold about 8,500 tons of feed ingredients along with 40,000 plus sq ft of warehouse storage, 3,300 sq. ft. office complex, 52,000 gallon of liquid feed storage along with 1,500 ton of bagged feed storage and a new 3-million-bushel grain terminal.
South Beaver Dam – Addition of a liquid fertilizer receiving bay, 82,000 gallons of crop protection storage along with an area for future expansion
Fall River - Transload plant with rail unloading capacity and track storage
Center Valley – A 8,200 dry fertilizer facility, 2 bay liquid fertilizer plant with 4,400 ton of liquid storage, 24,000 sq. ft. warehouse with office and shop and 3.8-million-bushel grain storage facility
Boscobel - Load out storage and tracks to load 110-car unit trains
Deerfield - Dry fertilizer plant expansion
Ripon South - Addition of two 1.3-million-bushel grain storage bins and a 600,000-bushel bin, two 125,000-bushel wet tanks, a 7,000 bushel/hour dryer, 2 receiving pits and a rail loadout
“Owning Our Identity” is undoubtedly a defining theme for our equity programs. By being a member of United Cooperative, you can participate in the economic impact through our cash distribution and equity revolvement programs, enabling you to build back on your farms. I am proud to announce on behalf of United Cooperative an equity stock revolvement of more than $13.8 million of equity stock (all of year 2013 cooperative member equity stock), as well as the percentage of stock committed to being revolved per plan of merger agreements. In addition, United Cooperative has paid over $880,000 in member requests for those older than 77 and estate settlements. All totaled, United Cooperative will have paid over $14.6 million in cash for equity stock revolvement in 2023.
This equity stock revolvement is an ongoing commitment that United Cooperative makes to its members and is one unique deliverable of a member-owned cooperative. As you, your friends, and your neighbors purchase products and services from United Cooperative, your cooperative generates a profit. Profits are needed to re-invest in your cooperative. United Cooperatives performance and aggressive equity stock retirement program sets our identity apart from all other cooperatives.
Thank you for your valued partnership with United Cooperative. We will continue to uphold our brand promise of building a solid cooperative for our members through our employees, our goods and services, and sustainability efforts and profits. This focus is why our members can “Rely on Us.” Together we will all be able to enjoy this distinguished character “our identity” of our cooperative system.
Have a safe and productive harvest.
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Harvest has started and depending on yields, as I write this, we are approaching 60% completion of soybean harvest. Early yields have been variable, but for the most part better than expected. We hope the corn harvest is a pleasant surprise as well. Commodity prices are under pressure, as we have seen the southern hemisphere grow very good crops that have created a surplus in the world. This also has been detrimental to the US export program as well, thus creating carryover stocks that pressure the markets. At our facilities, we have been busy preparing for the harvest by loading out commodities and sweeping bins to prepare for the new crop.