Farmer-owned cooperatives – including dairy, nut and fruit producers in and near Stanislaus County – set another record for last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported.
The total of $246.7 billion across the nation was up 0.4 percent from 2013. Last year’s net income of $6.5 billion was up 16.5 percent.
The figures include farm, ranch and fishery products sold through co-ops, along with co-ops that provide these producers with seed, fertilizer and other inputs.
“The nation’s co-ops are essential to the U.S. economy and to rural America,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. “The income they generate is reinvested or returned to members who spend it in their local communities.”
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The department also released its annual list of the top 100 co-ops. Among the highlights for 2014:
▪ No. 1 is CHS Inc. of St. Paul, Minn., which deals in crops, energy and farm supplies and had $42.9 billion in sales.
▪ No. 2 is Dairy Farmers of America, based in Kansas City, Mo., at $17.9 billion. It has a Turlock plant that makes cheese and a Hughson plant for condensed milk and other products.
▪ No. 3 is Land O’Lakes Inc., also based in St. Paul, at $15.3 billion. Its holdings include Turlock plants that make Kozy Shack pudding and Purina animal feed.
▪ No. 6 is California Dairies Inc., based in Artesia, Los Angeles County, at $4.6 billion. It makes butter and powdered milk in Turlock and cheese and condensed milk in Los Banos.
▪ No. 21 is Blue Diamond Growers, at $1.5 billion. It processes almonds in Salida and Turlock and at its headquarters plant in Sacramento.
▪ No. 63 is Pacific Coast Producers at $591 million. It cans peaches and apricots in Lodi, some of them grown in and near Stanislaus County.
About 191,000 people worked for agricultural co-ops last year, up 0.4 percent from 2013, the USDA reported. The total number of such businesses stood at 2,106 last year.