Local co-op closes, now what?

As an owner of the co-op I’m not happy, and I’m not the only one.

Hope you had a great Labor Day! For us, this is truly the end of summer. Our energy will now be turned toward finishing preparations for harvest. We have some early-planted corn that will likely be ready in a couple of weeks. The early beans have turned from dark green to light green speckled with shades of yellow.

Last week, I ventured into corn fields for the first time to do a yield check. Generally, results showed average historical yields. I try not to get too wrapped up in kernel counts and there are so many variables it is still difficult to be accurate. I still feel that soybeans yields are up in the air. Waterlogged soils have resulted in some crop damage.

There have been rumors and plans floating around for a couple years of the local co-op consolidating branches. Unfortunately, the closest one to us was on the list for shut down. This spring, they attempted to leave the facility void of product. The plan was to service customers from the terminal 20+ miles away. After a 6-hour round trip to pick up dry fertilizer, I was told they decided limited inventory would be a good thing.

Apparently, management had other plans. We found out last week the co-op sold a bunch of inventory at an online auction. Sure, some equipment had seen better days, but some equipment was still quite usable. The disappointing thing was, we knew nothing about it until it was over. They selected an auctioneer from out west. There were no advertisements in local papers. Part of me thinks they didn’t want locals to buy anything. As an owner of the co-op, I’m not happy. I’m not the only one. The community built this co-op, we deserve to be better informed.

No, it’s not sour grapes. It just doesn’t make sense. If you are planning on serving the same clientele, how are you going to do it with less equipment? I mean some of the stuff they sold were tandem NH3 nurse tanks. Bigger isn’t always better. Consolidation isn’t always the way to go. We have found it is more difficult, requires more equipment, and more manpower when you’re spread over a large geography.

I hope this works out for them, but I know we’re not the only ones checking our options.

The opinions of the author are not necessarily those of Farm Futures or Penton Agriculture.

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