Farmer co-op sales, income climb in 2001

Farmer co-op sales, income climb in 2001 The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced that net business volume for the nation's 3,229 farmer-owned cooperatives climbed to $1.36 billion, up 6.3 percent from 2000 and the highest income level since $1.764 billion was recorded in 1998.

"Despite these increases, the farm cooperative sector continues to face challenges associated with the downturn in he agricultural economy," said Randall Torgerson, USDA deputy administrator for cooperative services. "Low commodity prices, adverse weather in many areas and changes caused by urbanization and farm structure requires that cooperative managers and boards of directors be alert to needed adjustments in their operations."

Total net business volume for farmer cooperatives increased to $103.3 billion in 2001, up from $99.7 billion in 2000, according to USDA's annual co-op survey. Net business volume includes receipts from the sale of crops, livestock and value-added products marketed by cooperatives, as well as farm production supplies sold and services provided by cooperatives. It does not include sales between cooperatives.

On the marketing side, livestock and poultry products notched the biggest sales gain, up 15.7 percent from 2000. Milk and milk products followed loosely behind, with sales jumping 15.3 percent in 2001. These sectors boosted overall co-op marketing dollar volume by 4.1 percent. However, sales by co-ops of almost all together ag commodities fell, with fruits and vegetables showing the most significant decrease, off $700 million from 2000.

Farm production supply sales climbed 2.8 percent, due mainly to higher petroleum prices. Petroleum sales increased nearly $1 billion, or 8.2 percent. Fertilizer sales climbed 8.6 percent and seed sales 14.8 percent. Receipts for crop protectants, feed and other farm supplies were all down.

Farm supply cooperatives saw net income increase by $118 million, or 37.9 percent. Higher margins on petroleum sales helped drive the increase. Income for related services (such as cotton ginning, trucking and livestock breeding_ increased by $21 million, or 21.3 percent.

Crop and livestock marketing co-ops saw net income slide by $60 million. The co-op livestock and poultry, rice and sugar sectors all saw net income dip in 2001. Dairy an fruit and vegetable marketing cooperatives enjoyed higher net income in 2001.

Combined assets of farmer-owned cooperatives reached $48.5 billion in 2001, down 2.5 percent from 2000. Net worth of $20.1 billion was down 0.6 percent, which means cooperatives financed more assets with debt capital rather than equity.

The number of cooperatives dropped to 3,229, down from 3,346 in 2000, a result of mergers, consolidation, acquisitions and dissolutions.

Memberships in farmer cooperatives totaled 3.03 million in 2001, down 1.7 percent from 2000. The number of memberships is larger than the number of farmers in the United States because many farmers belong to more than one cooperative.

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