Iowa was home to 16 of the nation’s 100 largest agricultural cooperatives in 2012, which was more than any other state.
Innovative Ag Services of Monticello was ranked the 19th-largest nationally with annual sales of $1.44 billion, up from just over $1 billion in 2011 when it was ranked No. 27. The grain cooperative has 35 locations in northeast and central Iowa and southwest Wisconsin.
The cooperative incorporated in 2005 but traces its history back to 1969. It has more than 5,000 members in the grain, agronomy, feed, energy and building supply markets, and employs more than 350 employees.
Innovative Ag Services mailed more than 4,000 deferred dividend checks to its members last month totaling nearly $1.7 million.
Swiss Valley Farms of Davenport was ranked 98th in 2012, down from 79th in 2011. The dairy cooperative, which has about 320 employees, recorded sales of $404 million last year, up from $397 million in 2011.
Swiss Valley Farms, which operated a plant in Cedar Rapids until the June 2008 flood, is owned and controlled by nearly 800 dairy producers. It is the 22nd largest dairy cooperative in the United States.
Farmway Co-op Inc., a grain co-op based in Beloit, Kan., made the largest jump on the Top 100, rising from 114th in 2011 to 62nd on the 2012 list. The next biggest gainer was West Central Cooperative of Ralston, Iowa, a co-op that handles grain and farm supplies, which climbed from 69th in 2011 to 41st last year.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said cooperatives play a significant role in the overall economy.
“Agricultural cooperatives are a driving force in the nation’s thriving farm economy, and 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. “Ag cooperatives also are 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.”
The nation’s 100 largest agricultural cooperatives reported record sales revenue of $162 billion in 2012, an increase of almost 9 percent over 2011, when revenue totaled $148 billion. Net income of $3.5 billion also was a record, up from $3.1 billion in 2011.
The value of crop and livestock production had a major impact on the increase in net income during 2012. Patronage income from other co-ops increased by $105 million, or 54.4 percent, in 2012.
Farm supply and grain sales showed some of the largest gains for the year, the latter due to higher grain prices from widespread drought in 2012. Dairy, fruit and vegetable, and mixed co-ops (selling grain and farm supplies) saw sales decline in 2012, according to the USDA report.
The top 100 cooperative sales represent about 68.9 percent of the $235 billion in sales made by all agricultural co-ops in 2012. Nearly every type of cooperative had to deal with higher expenses in 2012.
Total expenses for the top 100 ag co-ops increased by 6 percent from 2011 to 2012. The largest cost increase was interest expenses, which rose by $300 million to $3.8 billion.
Labor expenses also increased $200 million from 2011, totaling $5.2 billion in 2012. The top 100 ag co-ops paid $336 million in income taxes in 2012, $137 million more than in 2011.