Co-op Pays $10 M in Patronage
Your team at Co-Alliance is proud to report that the 2011 business year concluded with record sales and marketing volume, and the return of record levels of patronage refunds to shareholders.
Dozens of Local Couples Attend Progressive Farmer Conference
More than four dozen couples were invited to be special guests of Co-Alliance LLP at the company's Progressive Farmer Conference in Indianapolis recently. Agenda topics included weather intelligence and modeling, SPCC compliance, safety and risk management, understanding the role of co-ops and members, and an interactive workshop on ag advocacy by nationally recognized speaker Michele Payn-Knoper. The Progressive Farmer Conference is an investment Co-Alliance makes in local growers who represent significant business to the organization.
Chad Parker, recently named Deputy Administrator of the USDA's Cooperative Development Office, flew in from Washington, DC, to applaud the local farmers for being active in their local co-op. Parker studies all cooperatives across the nation and identifies success trends... many of which he reported seeing within Co-Alliance. "Our research statistics have shown that strong co-ops are good for communities," he said. "When the co-op disappears, prices go up and competition goes down. Co-ops like this one were formed for a reason. Make it stronger by getting involved. Be informed. If you owned a grocery store, you'd shop there. You own this co-op, and I've done some research before coming here today. It is a good one. Take advantage of it."
In addition to afternoon presentations, there was ample time for fellowship, meals, shopping and after-dinner entertainment provided by Dennis Regan, a comedian familiar to many thanks to his David Letterman and Comedy Central appearances. According to repeat attendees Kevin and Jessica Walker, the event is well worth the effort to attend. The couple traveled from their Scircleville-area farm in Clinton County. Said Jessica, "Our success can be summed up in the connections we foster and nurture... There is no doubt about it; our relationship (with Co-Alliance) is symbiotic. We need each other to be successful and maximize potential to thrive in this new era of agriculture!"
First-time guests Jim and Amy Paarlberg, agreed. The Paarlbergs farm in northern Indiana, and do business with Co-Alliance's Rolling Prairie agronomy branch. "We enjoyed the speakers, and could relate to the same concerns as other growers here. I especially appreciated safety and risk information, since that topic is always at the top of my mind here on the farm," said Jim, a father of six. Amy added, "It was a good reminder to hear the presentation on ag advocacy, which prompted us all to consider how we can take responsibility and do more to positively position the role of agriculture in the non-farm community around us."
As a partnership of five farmer-owned local cooperatives, Co-Alliance LLP serves the needs of thousands of active members and customers across Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. The core business units are agronomy, energy, grain marketing and swine animal nutrition. Top leadership of each division was present at the Conference to visit with guests on an informal basis. "Building relationships and having a comfortable working relationship with your Co-Alliance team, from CEO to field staff, is important to all of us," said host Kevin A. Still. As CEO of the now billion-dollar supply and grain marketing operation, Still reports that the annual farmer conference is a highlight of the business year. "We began hosting this event for progressive young couples in our trade area five years ago, and we're pleased that our guests continue to put a priority on returning to study and strengthen their operations each year," he noted. "Together, we are learning the strategies and information we all need to stay on the forefront of agriculture."
Filling a Need
Sheriff Tony Burns was pleased to receive an award from Co-Alliance's Mike Titus recently. Mike is a member of the Safety and Risk Management team at Co-Alliance.The funds (a matching grant from Co-Alliance and Land O Lakes) are dedicated to the local K9 program that helps keep Carroll County safe. The work of police dogs is extremely important... especially in keeping schools and rural areas free from drugs. We're glad to do our part.
$1,000 Award to Carroll County 4-H
Joanne Lytton is passionate about 4-H and the life lessons today's 4-Hers are learning. "As an organization, 4-H is focusing on encouraging youth to be the best they can be ... we're championing the National 4-H Join the Responsibility Revolution among our participants... and here in Carroll County, we think that is a great campaign," she said earlier this week.
"A responsible 4-H'er is a leader, a good student, involved in activities and ultimately a quality future worker who contributes to local business and local communities," she said.
Employees at the local farm co-op, Co-Alliance LLP, could not agree more. Co-Alliance's Cory Cocanower is a Carroll County resident, and has worked with local 4-H'ers as a 4-H Shooting Sports Leader for the past six years. He is a volunteer Joanne knows well, "Cory has worked enthusiastically in our Shooting Sports shotgun discipline, and we appreciate his commitment to safe, responsible programming for about 150 kids who enjoy the Shooting Sports 4-H program. Our program is thriving because of volunteers like Cory," she said.
Dozens of Co-Alliance employees not only volunteer their time in our trade area, but the company also provides free supplies and financial support to 4-H causes and programs in more than two dozen counties. Cocanower recently presented $1,000 to Lytton to be earmarked for 4-H Responsibility Revolution programs. The funds were a matching grants gift made possible by Co-Alliance and Land O'Lakes.
Proud to Sponsor SWCD Meeting
Co-Alliance is a sponsor of the upcoming Indiana Association of Soil and Water Conservation District (IASWCD) 69th Annual Conference. This event draws Indiana's leading conservationists to meet, share ideas and prepare for the future. With donations from business partners like Co-Alliance, the IASWCD is able to offer this unique three-day event... providing training and information and acknowledgement for outstanding conservation efforts.
Put Bob's Expertise to Work for You
As Commodity Risk Manager, Bob Leavens helps company leadership and customers make more informed business decisions. According to Co-Alliance CEO Kevin A. Still, Bob's expertise is a great asset to the organization. "Having Bob monitor and filter what is critical each day puts us in a better position to make decisions," he says. "For example, in just minutes, today's market fluctuations can mean over $1 million one way or the other on diesel inventory for a company our size. It is advantageous to have someone focused on the activity with our best interests in mind." "I work with fuel contracting quite a bit," says Bob, "I also e-mail a brief summary to growers twice a day to keep them informed," he says. In our 24/7 news cycle, subscribers use Bob's insights to cut through the hype and focus on what matters. "I watch for reports and monitor action across all sectors... commodities, weather, industry, government. I also keep an eye on geopolitical action that may potentially impact our business."
Vince Seward Named Bringhurst Manager
Area resident Vince Seward has been named Manager of the Co-Alliance Bringhurst Agronomy Plant. A Purdue University graduate with an Ag Economics degree, Vince brings more than 25 years of professional agricultural cooperative experience to his position. He was most recently working within the Liquid Fuels for Co-Alliance in the company's main office. The transition to Bringhurst Branch Manager will bring Seward back to Carroll County (in lieu of the Avon main office) where Vince has resided for years. Prior to the merger of Excel Co-op into the Co-Alliance partnership several years ago, Vince was a familiar name to area farmers as Energy Manager in Carroll County for Excel.
At Bringhurst, which is located just off State Road 75 south of Flora, Vince will oversee the full-service agronomy operations of the extensive plant. He will also manage the experienced employee team there. Vince is already making appointments and visiting with local growers. He looks forward to the busy fall application season, and assisting growers as they finalize soil testing plans and the seed selection process. In addition to a staff experienced in application, soil sampling, technology and seed expertise, the Bringhurst plant boasts Co-Alliance's only T-Reactor system. This unit converts phosphoric acid and NH3 into 10-34-0 and 11-37-0 for retail and wholesale.
Farmers Grow Communities... It is Easy!
You can help secure a $2,500 donation for your local community... nominate a worthy nonprofit organization for the 2nd annual America's Farmers Grow Communities campaign. The deadline is November 30. Unlike the thousands of dollars donated by Co-Alliance each year in local communities, these awards are provided by Monsanto and will be announced in January. Farmers in the Co-Alliance trade area can apply by logging on to http://www.growcommunities.com or calling (877) 267-3332.
Grow to Give: 1.6 Million Pounds of Potatoes
Thanks to Lennard Ag's Grow To Give program, more than 1.6 million pounds of potatoes will provide 4 million servings of nutritious potatoes to local residents in need. Grow To Give is the program started by the Lennard family farm operation (growing based in Sturgis, Michigan) to distribute potatoes to food pantries throughout the middle United States. A full 100% of the produce grown is donated, and local farm co-op Co-Alliance LLP has been honored to donate some of the required input materials needed to help make the program possible.
Co-Alliance Schoolcraft Manager Kent Feldman appreciates the Grow To Give campaign because it aligns with the Co-Alliance core philosophy of giving back close to home. "Plus the opportunity to showcase how the Lennards produce 1.6 million pounds of potatoes on 40 acres of land is a testament to the efficiency and professionalism of today's farmer."
Potatoes are easy to prepare and versatile. They're rich in complex carbohydrates that can supply energy, with one medium-sized potato providing about 150 calories. That same potato has about 5 grams of fiber, and a healthy dose of vitamins and minerals. Some people don't know that potatoes contain more potassium than any other fresh vegetable in the produce department - even more than bananas.
According to Nutritionist Shereen Jegtvig's blog, "Potatoes also contain substantial amounts of vitamins C and B6, which are vital for blood clotting, wound healing, a strong immune system, normal nervous system function and for converting the food you eat to energy. There's also a substance called kukoamine found in potatoes that may help to lower blood pressure, although more research is necessary to know for sure."
Sounds like you can't go wrong when you put a potato on your plate. Co-Alliance believes you also can't go wrong when you help put a healthy, nutritious potato on someone else's plate. Congratulations to Co-Alliance customer (and Grow To Give partner) Lennard Ag on the success of this program. Want to know more? Visit www.lennardag.com/grow.
Wrapping Up the County Fair Season
This year, the company was happy to provide thousands of dollars in supplies across our trade area, including stall cards, back tags, t-shirts, meal donations, giveaway prizes, fuel and other items Youth Educators need as they work with 4Hers. We are Sponsors of the Day in Boone, Carroll, Clinton, Clay, Morgan and White Counties. Our teams also serve up pancakes for hundreds of tired kids and their families as we help host Clean Up Day at several fairs. The company staff also logs hundreds of volunteer hours.
One of the most lasting ways Co-Alliance helps support 4-H is through financial support of the statewide 4-H Foundation. Our company and partner organizations have donated thousands of dollars to Foundation in recent years. If you have not considered this worthy statewide cause, please visit http://www.indiana4-h.org and find out more! In addition to County Fair activities, Co-Alliance team members also show our pride at the Indiana State Fair, with volunteers manning the 4-H Foundation Booth.
The company provides biodiesel to power the Biodiesel Shuttle with premium CountryMark fuel, and we provide significant support to the Fair's World's Largest Drive Through Breakfast, working beside our fuel provider CountryMark to top off the tanks for visitors with cleaner burning ethanol blended fuels. The ways our team wholeheartedly gives back demonstrate our commitment: Co-Alliance is proud to invest in 4-H.###
Propane On the Grow
Since this release was posted, Co-Alliance has also added route coverage in the Howard County area through the additional hiring of propane professional Jim Romack. For service in that area, contact Jim at (574) 967-4166.
Schoolcraft MI- Co-Alliance has expanded operations at the plant on US 131 in southern Michigan. Beginning this spring, Co-Alliance began operating a propane gas outlet on the site. The construction of the new facility is complete, and the local staff is ready to serve area home, farm, and commercial propane needs. As a company, Co-Alliance supplies more than 23 million gallons of propane gas to consumers every year. The new facility is located on US 131 between Three Rivers and Schoolcraft, and routes are established to serve customers in Kalamazoo, St Joseph, Van Buren and Barry Counties. The goal is to grow the Schoolcraft route by several million gallons, and to contribute to the local Schoolcraft economy through employee participation in local community events. Want propane in the Schoolcraft and surrounding area? Call (269) 679-5226. Just in time for summer, a fill station is being added to accommodate grilling and RV season needs.
Review of Patronage and Equity Returns to Members
Avon IN - There is strength in numbers. Once again, this adage proved true for area farmers who are members of the Co-Alliance partnership. Total 2010 sales for the business exceeded $734 million, and net income after taxes was almost $20 million for year-end August 31, 2010. Patronage, which is a return paid to share-holding members based on the amount of business they do with the co-op, reached $9 million this year, and each of the five partnering co-ops indicate this is a record achievement. Of that amount, $7 million was paid back in cash. In addition, the co-ops returned $1 million in equity redemption to their oldest loyal members.