Co-ops Have Healthy Returns

Co-ops Have Healthy Returns

Analysis of cooperative income from 2010 shows an increase across the board for the nation's top 100.

While the data is a year old, the analysis is newsworthy as USDA Rural Development releases its report on the nation's 100 largest 100 ag cooperatives. The top 100 recorded near-record revenue of $118 billion in 2010 - a 4% increase over 2009. Net income, according to the report released by Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager, rose more than 10% in the same period, reach $2.39 billion, up from $2.16 billion in 2009.

Co-ops Have Healthy Returns

In the statement announcing the new data, Tonsager notes that these farmer and rancher-owned cooperatives not only help members market and process their crops, milk and livestock; but they create jobs and help producer keep more of their earnings at home. "The end result is a huge benefit for producers, their communities and the overall rural economy. Farmer co-ops also account for significant numbers of jobs and economic activity in many cities."

Top earning cooperative in 2010 was CHS Inc. The farm supply, grain and foods cooperative, based in St. Paul, Minn., had revenue of $25.3 billion. Land O' Lakes, a dairy foods and farm supply co-op, also based in St. Paul, ranked second, with $11.1 billion in revenue. And in third, Dairy Farmers of America, based in Kansas City, Mo., with $9.8 billion in revenue.

USDA's top 100 ag co-op list shows that 23 co-ops had 2010 revenue of more than $1 billion. Another 47 co-ops had revenue between $506 million and $1 billion. The 100th ranked co-op had sales of $276 million.

Leading the revenue increase from 2009 to 2010 were dairy cooperatives, which saw 2010 revenue climb more than 14.5 percent from the previous year, to $29.5 billion. Dairy cooperatives accounted for more than half of the revenue increase recorded by the top 100 ag co-ops in 2010.

Gross margins, as a percent of total sales, were up slightly, from 9 percent to 9.2 percent. The increase in gross margins partially covered higher expenses. Gross margins plus service revenue climbed to $684 million.

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