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Record Performance for US Fishery Co-operatives

25 October 2013
USDA

US - In recognition of October as National Cooperative Month, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated that US farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives set records for sales, income and assets in 2012, buoyed by strong prices for grain, farm supplies and many other agricultural commodities.

Sales by agricultural and fishery co-ops of nearly $235 billion surpassed the 2011 record by $18 billion, an 8.3 per cent gain. Record net (pre-tax) income of $6.1 billion was up nearly 13 per cent over the $5.4 billion recorded in 2011.

"Agricultural cooperatives are a driving force in the nation's thriving farm economy. 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," Secretary Vilsack said. "Ag cooperatives are also 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."

Secretary Vilsack has signed an October 2013 National Cooperative Month Proclamation that salutes not only agricultural and fishery co-ops, but the entire co-op sector – which includes utility, financial, food and many other types of co-ops – for helping to boost the economy and create jobs.

Reading from the proclamation, Secretary Vilsack said: "Cooperative businesses, arising from a sense of community and common cause, are the ultimate economic self-help tool, helping member-owners market and process their crops and other products, obtain needed services and acquire high-quality, affordable supplies."

USDA's annual survey of the nation's more than 2,200 agricultural and fishery cooperatives shows that grain and oilseed sales by co-ops increased more than $7 billion in 2012. Taken together, bean and pea, fruit and vegetable, nut, poultry and sugar sales by co-ops increased at least 3 per cent over 2011 levels. Farm and ranch supply sales by co-ops were up by $7 billion, primarily due to rising energy prices. Fertilizer, feed and petroleum sales by co-ops each increased by at least $1 billion.

Net assets owned by agricultural co-ops – which range from local grain elevators and farm supply stores to major food and beverage processing plants – also showed a dramatic increase in 2012, rising to $82.9 billion, up 4.4 per cent from $79.4 billion in 2011. Owner equity gained $1.8 billion. Equity capital remains low, but is clearly showing an upward trend, with a 6.5 per cent increase over the previous year.

Secretary Vilsack noted that today's announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy. He said that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.

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