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FC, WC boards recommend merger

By Staff | Nov 24, 2015

AMES/RALSTON – Farmers Cooperative Co. and West Central Cooperative announced Nov. 5 a unanimous vote by their boards of directors to proceed with a merger vote by members of both cooperatives.

Following several months of internal and independent analysis on the potential risks and benefits associated, the boards approved the plan and recommend a merger.

Members are invited to hear presentations and information on the merger at one of 20 member meetings scheduled from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

For a merger, Iowa law requires 50 percent of each membership to vote, with two-thirds of those votes cast to favor the proposal.

Ballots and voting details were scheduled to in the mail to member by Nov. 20 .

The votes will be counted at a special meeting slated for Dec. 18.

“Our members own these cooperatives,” said John Scott, FC board president and Odebolt-area farmer. “We encourage each owner to read the plan of merger and proposed articles of incorporation, ask questions, and return their ballot.

“Every member matters.”

Sue Tronchetti, West Central board chair and Paton-area farmer, said, “This is a landmark decision for our member-owners.

“Our boards, management and employee teams believe we can diversify our businesses, improve member services and protect and enhance member patronage by utilizing our scale to procure more efficiently.”

Members are invited to hear presentations and information on the merger at one of 20 member meetings scheduled from Nov. 30 to Dec. 11.

These include:

  • Nov. 30: Jefferson at 11:30 a.m., and Farmhamville at 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 1: Bondurant at 11:30 a.m., and Atlantic at 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 2: Menlow at 11:30 a.m., and Lytton at 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 3: Paton at 11:30 a.m., and Bayard at 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 4: Parkersburg at 11:30 a.m., and Buffalo Center at 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 7: Templeton at 11:30 a.m., and Early at 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 8: Hampton at 11:30 a.m., and Boone at 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 9: Greene at 11:30 a.m., and Odebolt at 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 10: Thompson at 11:30 a.m., and Carroll at 6 p.m.
  • Dec. 11: Perry at 11:30 a.m., and Sac City at 6 p.m.

“By merging FC and West Central, members would truly have an ownership stake in every step of the value-added supply chain,” said Milan Kucerak, West Central president and chief executive officer. “Whether it’s branded seed, faster grain assets, or value-added corn and soybean processing, a combined cooperative is better positioned to weather market volatility, directly access global markets, and offer more to its owners.”

Jim Chism, FC chief executive officer, said, “We want to improve member service with better, faster assets sooner, and by retaining and hiring the best people.

“Most importantly, a merger allows us to maintain our commitment to serving our communities and keep profits local.”

Should the membership approve the merger, each cooperative will be represented by nine farmer-owners and member equity will roll into the new cooperative on a one-for-one basis.

The combined cooperative, to be headquartered in Ames, Iowa, will be led by Kucerak as chief executive officer.

In its last full fiscal year, Farmers Cooperative Co.’s agronomy, grain and feed businesses grossed $675 million in sales and had $292 million in total assets.

FC has 414 full-time employees at 49 locations.

West Central’s agronomy, grain, feed and dairy nutrition product line grossed $633 million and had $300 million in assets its last full fiscal year.

The cooperative has 275 full-time employees in 24 communities.

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