Stuttgart Rice Mills Make Top 100 List of U.S. Cooperatives

by Wesley Brown (wesbrocomm@gmail.com) 328 views 

Two Stuttgart-based rice mills again made the top 100 list of the nation’s agricultural cooperatives in 2014, but lost ground in the annual ranking as most of the nation’s farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record income and revenue in 2014, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday (Oct. 7).

As part of USDA’s observance of October as National Cooperative Month, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack previewed a USDA report to be released later this month that shows cooperatives earned $6.5 billion in net income and generated $246.7 billion in total revenue last year.

Net income increased 16.5% while revenue rose 0.4% from 2013. Co-ops set records for income and revenue in 2014 for the fourth year in a row.

“The nation’s co-ops are essential to the U.S. economy and to rural America,” Vilsack said. “The income they generate is reinvested or returned to members who spend it in their local communities. USDA is proud to continue its support of the cooperative movement.”

NATIONAL NUMBERS
According to the rankings, CHS Inc., a fuel, supply, grain and food cooperative based in Inver Grove Heights, Minn., is the nation’s largest cooperative. It posted $43 billion in revenue in 2014. Rounding out the top three ag co-ops are Kansas City-based Dairy Farmers of America, with $18 billion in total revenue, and Land O’Lakes, headquartered in, St. Paul, Minn., with $15 billion in revenue.

For co-op revenue by state, Minnesota ranks first, with $67.6 billion. Missouri is second at $21.4 billion, and Illinois is third at $14.1 billion. The rankings show that 15 of the Top 100 agricultural co-ops are based in Iowa, the most of any state. Minnesota is home to the second most Top 100 agricultural co-ops, with 12 headquartered there. Nebraska is next with nine, followed by Illinois with six and California and Wisconsin, both with five. Indiana, Missouri and Ohio each have four Top 100 co-ops, while Kansas is home to three.

Nationwide, overall ag co-op employment increased 0.4% to 191,000 people in 2014. The number of full-time co-op employees dipped slightly, 0.4%, while the number of part-time employees increased by 2%.

The total number of ag cooperatives declined from 2,186 in 2013 to 2,106 last year, a drop of nearly 4%. Despite the decline, co-op memberships grew by 1 %, to just under 2 million. Many farmers and ranchers are members of more than one cooperative. In addition to providing supplies and marketing services to farmers and ranchers, the nation’s co-ops provide telecommunications, energy, financial and other important services.

ARKANSAS NUMBERS
In Arkansas, Riceland Foods Inc. and Producers Rice Mill Inc. of Stuttgart both make the list of the nation’s top agriculture co-ops, bringing in annual revenues of more than $1.16 billion and $548 million, respectively. Those totals, however, were well off last year’s combined sales of more than $2.1 billion for the Stuttgart rice mills, causing a slight drop in the annual rankings for both Arkansas farming cooperatives.

Riceland, which had annual revenues of $1.32 billion in fiscal 2013, fell from 22nd to 25th on the USDA list. Neighbor and rival Producers Rice Mill dropped one spot from 64th to 65th on the annual list.

And although Arkansas accounted for more than half of the total U.S. rice acreage and production during the 2014 season, prices for long-grain fell substantially as rice stockpiles grew to bear-record levels.  However, global rice prices are expected to rise later this year as El Nino weather patterns push Asian rice production to multi-year lows, analysts say.

TRADE DEALS OFFER MUCH FOR ARKANSAS MARKET
In addition, Arkansas rice markets could see a huge boost in the upcoming months and years with two historic U.S. trade deals with Cuba and several Pacific nations now on the table.

This week, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, introduced the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act that would provide new economic opportunities and jobs for America’s agriculture industry by providing access to a market that is valued at more than $1 billion per year. Crawford’s bill follows Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s trade mission earlier this month to the Caribbean nation, where the Arkansas governor urged Congress to move forward cautiously in opening up trade with the communist country.

Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Wes Ward, who was part of Hutchinson’s delegation in Cuba, recently told Talk Business & Politics that the state’s rice industry could see a $30 million annual boost in exports if economic restrictions in that country were eased.

Also, the USDA released a state-by-state analysis this week, showing that the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact would establish a new, duty-free quota for U.S. rice in Japan, and eliminate tariffs in Malaysia and Vietnam.

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