U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced this week in honor of October being National Co-op Month, that U.S. farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives set records for sales, income and assets in 2012, buoyed by strong prices for grain, farm supplies and many other agricultural commodities. Sales by agricultural and fishery co-ops of nearly $235 billion surpassed the 2011 record by $18 billion, an 8.3 percent gain. Record net (pre-tax) income of $6.1 billion was up nearly 13 percent over the $5.4 billion recorded in 2011.
"Agricultural cooperatives are a driving force in the nation's thriving farm economy. Because they are farmer-owned and operated businesses, the sales dollars and income generated are much more likely to be returned and spent in rural areas and communities," Vilsack said in the press release. "Ag cooperatives are also vital to the rural economy because they support 185,000 full- and part-time jobs, and are often the major employer in many rural towns."
USDA's annual survey of the nation's more than 2,200 agricultural and fishery cooperatives shows that grain and oilseed sales by co-ops increased more than $7 billion in 2012. Taken together, bean and pea, fruit and vegetable, nut, poultry and sugar sales by co-ops increased at least 3 percent over 2011 levels. Farm and ranch supply sales by co-ops were up by $7 billion, primarily due to rising energy prices. Fertilizer, feed and petroleum sales by co-ops each increased by at least $1 billion. To read more, click HERE.