In order to successfully kick-off National Cooperative Month, the United States Department of Agriculture reported that the nation’s farmer, rancher, and fishery cooperatives set a new sales record for the third consecutive year with total business volume of approximately $246 billion in 2013.
“These sales and net income records for ag cooperatives, combined with strong gains in employees for 2013, underscore the strength and productivity of the nation’s farmer- and rancher-owned cooperatives,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These co-ops play a vital and growing role in the nation’s economy.”
This number, which exceeds the previous record from 2012 by 4 percent, represents the increase of sales in the overall farm economy throughout the previous year. The nation’s crop production and livestock sales both experienced an increase of 6 percent in 2013.
Locally, Blue Diamond Growers reflects this national record as they experienced strong almond pricing in the previous year as the crop continued to grow.
“We had a very good year as demand for our production is rising,” said assistant director of member relations Mel Machado. “Almonds are perceived by the public as being a good, nutritious food.”
Additionally, production input sales increased by 2 percent last year, with co-ops making a significant imprint in the farm supply market as well. Stanislaus Farm Supply experienced some preliminary hardships with the drought; however, the co-op was able to compensate for loss by further developing stronger areas.
“It was definitely a challenge going in with the drought and all,” said customer service representative Marvin Dommer. “However, we had an overall positive year because the company aligned itself to expand business into other areas to mitigate the loss of business.”
USDA predicts that co-ops are unlikely to set fourth consecutive sales record, with grain and oilseed prices generally lower in 2014. This could be good news for livestock, poultry, and dairy producers and their co-ops who will benefit from lower feed costs, which is slated to offset a percentage of the decline in revenue.
“I think ag co-ops have served the ag industry very well. Their mission is to come together as a group to support their commodity,” said executive director of Stanislaus County Farm Bureau Wayne Zipser.