Net income for the nation’s agricultural cooperatives soared by 14 percent last year, according to data released today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). In its annual report on national cooperative business sales, USDA reported that the country’s farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record net income of $7 billion in 2015.
“The cooperative business model continues to perform strongly,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “While the model has long been one of the hallmarks of rural economies, its reach has greatly expanded to include almost every aspect of U.S. commerce. The latest data show that cooperatives are a key to building stronger and more vital communities, particularly in rural areas.”
Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Sam Rikkers announced the Top 100 ag cooperatives on Vilsack’s behalf at an Interagency Working Group on Cooperative Development meeting at the Department of Commerce. The group, which is led by USDA, was established to foster cooperative development and ensure coordination between federal agencies and national and local organizations.
Again, this year’s list shows that Iowa is home to more Top 100 co-ops than any other state, with 15. It is followed by Minnesota with 11 and Nebraska with nine. California and Illinois each have six, while Wisconsin has five. Minnesota and California each gained a new co-op in the Top 100 in 2015.
USDA indicated that total business volume fell for the Top 100 cooperatives, from $177 billion in 2014 to $149 billion in 2015. However, net income rose from $4.3 billion to $4.9 billion in 2015, an increase of 14 percent.
CHS Inc., a fuel, grain and food cooperative based in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., remains the nation’s largest cooperative in the United States, with $34.7 billion in total business volume for 2015. Dairy Farmers of America, a milk marketing cooperative based in Kansas City, Mo., came in second place, with $13.9 billion in total revenue. Land O’Lakes, a dairy foods and farm supply co-op, based in Saint Paul, Minn., was third, with $13.1 billion in sales.
The biggest ‘gainer’ on the list from 2014 was Producers Livestock Marketing Association, based in North Salt Lake, Utah. It rose from 90th place in 2014 to 58th place.
Cooperatives big and small continue to play a key role in creating vibrant rural economies. In 2012-2013, the Montana Cooperative Development Center helped the Big Flat Market Cooperative steering committee with its incorporation process and business planning. The result of this hard work is the Big Flat Grocery store, now open in rural Turner, Mont., near the Canadian border.
The release of the co-op Top 100 report comes as USDA celebrates National Cooperative Month throughout October. This year’s theme is “Cooperatives Build.” Secretary Vilsack kicked off the month-long celebration with an official proclamation.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (@USDARD) has invested nearly $13 billion to start or expand nearly 112,000 rural businesses; helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; and funded nearly 9,200 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities. USDA also has invested $31.3 billion in 963 electric projects that have financed more than 185,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving 4.6 million rural residents. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/results.
To read more about USDA’s investments in rural America and its successful turnaround, visit USDA’s entry on Medium.com, Rural America Is Back in Business.