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.”
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.