WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, in
recognition of October as National Cooperative Month, announced that U.S.
farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives set records for sales, income and
assets in 2012, buoyed by strong prices for grain, farm supplies and many other
Sales by agricultural and fishery co-ops of nearly $235
billion surpassed the 2011 record by $18 billion, an 8.3-percent gain. Record
net pre-tax income of $6.1 billion was up nearly 13 percent over the $5.4
billion recorded in 2011.
“Agricultural cooperatives are a driving force in the
nation’s thriving farm economy. Because they are farmer-owned and operated
businesses, the sales dollars and income generated are much more likely to be
returned and spent in rural areas and communities,” Vilsack said. “Ag
cooperatives are also vital to the rural economy because they support 185,000
full- and part-time jobs, and are often the major employer in many rural
Vilsack signed a National Cooperative Month Proclamation
that saluted not only agricultural and fishery co-ops, but the entire co-op
sector — which includes utility, financial, food and many other types of co-ops
— for helping to boost the economy and create jobs.
Reading from the proclamation, Vilsack said: “Cooperative
businesses, arising from a sense of community and common cause, are the ultimate
economic self-help tool, helping member-owners market and process their crops
and other products, obtain needed services and acquire high-quality, affordable
USDA’s annual survey of the nation’s more than 2,200
agricultural and fishery cooperatives showed that grain and oilseed sales by
co-ops increased more than $7 billion in 2012. Taken together, bean and pea,
fruit and vegetable, nut, poultry and sugar sales by co-ops increased at least 3
percent over 2011 levels.
Farm and ranch supply sales by co-ops were up by $7 billion,
primarily due to rising energy prices. Fertilizer, feed and petroleum sales by
co-ops each increased by at least $1 billion.
Net assets owned by agricultural co-ops — which range from
local grain elevators and farm supply stores to major food and beverage
processing plants — also showed a dramatic increase in 2012, rising to $82.9
billion, up 4.4 percent from $79.4 billion in 2011.
Owner equity gained $1.8 billion. Equity capital remains
low, but is clearly showing an upward trend, with a 6.5 percent increase over
the previous year.
USDA recently released its annual list of the nation’s 100
largest agricultural cooperatives. The list showed that Farmway Co-op Inc., a
grain co-op based in Beloit, Kan., made the largest upward jump on the Top 100,
rising from 114th place in 2011 to 62nd on the 2012 list.
The next biggest “gainer” was West Central Cooperative in
Ralston, Iowa, a co-op that handles grain and farm supplies, which climbed from
69th to 41st place in 2012.
As a sector, the biggest upward jumps on the Top 100 list
were made by grain and grain/farm supply co-ops. Eight of the 10 biggest co-op
gainers on the list in 2012 were grain or grain/farm supply co-ops.
The 100 largest agricultural cooperatives reported revenue
of $162 billion in 2012, a new record and an increase of more than 9 percent
over 2011, when revenue was $148 billion. Net income for the 100 top
cooperatives also set a new record in 2012, reaching $3.5 billion, up from the
previous record of $3.1 billion in 2011.