Iowa Home to 14 Top U.S. Agricultural Cooperatives

A sign advertises a 40-acre farm being for sale west of Urbana, Iowa. Photographed Thursday, March 15, 2012. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)


By Ellen Kurt

DES MOINES, Iowa - Farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record sales and income in 2011, and nowhere is that more evident than in Iowa, home to more of the top 100 agricultural cooperatives than any other state in the nation.

The 2,285 cooperatives surveyed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture had sales of $213 billion, exceeding 2010 sales by more than $40 billion. Net income before taxes for all agricultural co-ops was a record $5.4 billion, eclipsing the previous high of $4.9 billion set in 2008.

The 100 largest agricultural co-ops reported revenue of $148 billion in 2011, an increase of almost 30 percent from $113 billion in 2010. Net income for the 100 top cooperatives was $3.17 billion, up from $2.35 billion in 2010.

Iowa is home to 14 of the top 100 agricultural co-ops, followed by Minnesota with 13, Nebraska with 10, California with six and Wisconsin with five.

CHS Inc. of Saint Paul, Minn., an energy, farm supply, grain and food co-op, was the nation's largest agricultural cooperative with $36.9 billion in revenue in 2011. It was followed by Dairy Farmers of America of Kansas City, Mo., with $12.9 billion in revenue.

Third-ranked was Land O' Lakes Inc. of St. Paul, Minn., with $12.8 billion in revenue in 2011.

In Eastern Iowa, Innovative Ag Services Co. of Monticello is ranked No. 28 with revenue of $1.02 billion in 2011, up from $610 million in 2010 when it was ranked at No. 44.

River Valley Cooperative of Davenport, with locations in Clarence, Martelle, Olin, Ryan and Stanwood, is ranked No. 74 with revenue of $424 million in 2011, up from No. 75 in 2010 when it recorded revenue of $345 million.

Swiss Valley Farms Cooperative in Davenport, with a plant in Luana and a packaging facility in St. Olaf, is ranked No. 77, with 2011 revenue of $397 million — that's down from No. 77 in 2010 when it recorded revenue of $347 million.

Swiss Valley Farms operated a plant for many years in northwest Cedar Rapids until the facility was severely damaged by the June 2008 flood.

The Iowa Turkey Growers Cooperative, which owns West Liberty Foods, is not listed among the top 100 cooperatives although it generates more than $500 million in annual revenue. A West Liberty Foods spokeswoman was unable to say why the cooperative is not included.

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