Ag co-ops among nation’s top co-ops

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WASHINGTON – The National Cooperative Bank recently released its annual list of the nation’s 100 highest revenue-earning cooperatives, and on that list, the top agricultural cooperatives earned $52.8 billion in revenues during 2003.
The NCB Co-op 100 is the only annual report of its kind to track revenues generated by cooperatives.
The 100 cooperatives on the list earned approximately $117.4 billion in combined revenue.
Ag strength. In 2003, agricultural cooperatives remained the strongest presence on the NCB Co-op 100 with 39 businesses ranking in the top 100.
For the second consecutive year, CHS Cooperatives of Saint Paul, Minn., ranked No. 1 on both the overall list and the agriculture sector.
At the top. CHS is a diversified energy, grains and foods company that is also ranked as a Fortune 500 company. It also operates petroleum refineries and pipelines and, markets and distributes Cenex brand energy products, along with agronomic inputs and feed.
Other top cooperatives in descending rank order include Dairy Farmers of America; Land O’Lakes; Ag Processing; California Dairies; Gold Kist; GROWMARK; Southern States Cooperative; CF Industries; Foremost Farms USA Cooperative.
What’s a co-op? Although similar to other business models, a cooperative has several unique features. It is owned and controlled by its members who have joined together to use the cooperative’s goods, services and facilities.
A board of directors, elected by the membership, sets both policies and procedures.
By pooling resources, members can increase power to buy, sell, market, or bargain as one group.
Household words. According to the National Cooperative Business Association, there are 48,000 cooperatives in the United States.
Many cooperatives on the association’s top 100 list are household names such as Ocean Spray, ShopRite and The Associated Press.

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