A record year for farm cooperatives

harvest 2012.jpg

Harvest 2012 photo Dan Gunderson

The U.S. Agriculture Department announced this week that farmer owned cooperatives broke sales and income records in 2011.

Net income for all co-ops was up more than 25 percent from 2010, to $5.4 billion, with sales topping $213 billion.

Rising prices for farm commodities and petroleum products drove much of the growth.

Revenue increased nearly across the board; grains, dairy, energy, and supplies such as fertilizer and chemicals.

St. Paul based Cenex Harvest States continues its reign as the largest agricultural cooperative in the country with $36.9 billion in revenue last year.

Minnesota has 13 of the top 100 ag cooperatives in the nation. Only Iowa has more. According to USDA data, fIve of the top 10 earning cooperatives are located in Minnesota.

According to the USDA, across the country, agricultural cooperatives employ 184,000 people.

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