Agri Producers merger should benefit all groups

Members of three regional farm cooperatives, Agri Producers Inc., with headquarters at Tampa; Alida Pearl Cooperative, with headquarters at Chap?man; and North Central Kansas Cooperatives with headquarters at Hope, voted this month to combine into a new Agri Trails Cooperative with headquarters at Hope by March.

The final vote of the three mem?berships was 379-21.

The vote was 148-1 at Agri Producers, 77-10 at Alida Pearl and 154-10 at North Central Kansas.

With the vote, the members also approved building a new headquarters for Agri Trails at Hope.

The new company will have a combined value of about $150 million.

Stan Utting, general manager at Agri Producers, said the vote totals probably had crossovers, as producers who are members were eligible to vote at more than one cooperative.

Utting said he doesn?t have a total for how many farmer/members each cooperative has. Each parent co-op will have three directors on the new board.

Agri Producer board members will be Francis Jirak, Craig Stevenson and Kenny Kroupa.

Agri Producers has elevators at Tampa, Durham, Lincolnville, Herington, Gypsum and Carlton.

North Central Kansas has elevators at Hope, Dillon, Navarre and Woodbine.

Alida Pearl has elevators at Chapman and Pearl.

Utting said the unified size of the new cooperative will help make it more competitive with other grain and supply handlers while generating greater total business output.

?It will help competition in the industry in our area,? he said.

That in turn should generate more output and increase tax dollars to be paid, he added.

Utting said the merger will help the cooperatives overcome problems such as transportation and access to materials.

For instance, North Cen?tral Kansas has no access to railroads, but Agri-Produ?cers does, which may help North Central acquire more fertilizer supplies at better rates.

Utting said North Central has more overlap in members and business than for the other two cooperatives.

For instance, he noted, Agri Producers has overlap with North Central, but very little with Alida. Alida, however, has business shared with North Central but very little with Agri Producers.

The total volume of grain produced by the combined co-op, Utting said, will make it more attractive for marketing terminal companies.

But when you put them all together, he said, benefits will grow over time for all.

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