Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked-off National Cooperative Month announcing today that farm cooperatives posted record sales and income in 2011. This surpassed the previous record sales year of 2008 by $10 billion while besting the old income record by $500 million. Co-op employment levels remained strong, with cooperatives employing 184,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal workers, up slightly from 2010.
"These new cooperative sales and income records for 2011 underscore the strength and productivity of the nation's farmer- and rancher-owned cooperatives, and the vital role they play in the nation's economy," said a Vilsack spokesperson. "Primarily because of mergers, the number of farm co-ops continued to decline, but memberships and asset values are up."
Sales of farm supplies increased by $10 billion, primarily due to increased 2011 energy prices. Farm supply co-ops recorded gains of more than $3 billion for petroleum products, while sales were up by $1 billion for fertilizer, feed and crop protectants.
Farm production expenses also increased by double-digits in 2011, with feed, fertilizer and fuel prices leading the upward trend. The 2,285 surveyed cooperatives had sales of $213 billion, exceeding 2010 sales by more than $40 billion.
There was a continued downward trend in farm numbers, with USDA counting 2.2 million farms in 2011, down about 10,000 from 2010. The number of farmer cooperatives continues to decline; there are now 2,285 farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives, down from 2,314 in 2010. Mergers account for most of the drop, resulting in larger cooperatives.
CHS Inc. of Saint Paul, Minneasota – an energy, farm supply, grain and food co-op – was once again the nation's largest ag co-op, with $36.9 billion in revenue in 2011. It was followed by Dairy Farmers of America, Kansas City, Mo.; with $12.9 billion in revenue. It traded places from 2010 with third-ranked Land O' Lakes Inc., St. Paul, Minn., a dairy, food and farm supply co-op, with $12.8 billion in revenue in 2011.
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