Darigold’s cooperative owner, NW Dairy Association, moves up in the Top 10 nationally

The Department of Agriculture today reported U.S. farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives set records for sales, income and assets in 2012, thanks to stronger prices for grain, farm supplies and many other agricultural commodities.

The government said sales by agricultural and fishery co-ops of nearly $235 billion surpassed the 2011 record by $18 billion, an 8.3 percent gain. Pre-tax  income was a record $6.1 billion, up nearly 13 percent from the $5.4 billion recorded in 2011.

Northwest Dairy Association, which operates a Darigold packaging plant in Medford, moved up a notch to No. 7 on the ag cooperative list. The Seattle-based cooperative had revenue of nearly $2.5 billion in 2012, up from just under $2.1 billion in 2011. The cooperative assets declined, however, during that time to $548 million from $579 million.

Tillamook County Creamery Association, on the Oregon coast, ranked No. 71, down from No. 64. Tillamook had revenue of $516 million in 2012, up from $479 million in 2011. Its assets grew to $326 million from $295 million.

“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,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack  said in statement. “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.”

USDA’s annual survey of more than 2,200 agricultural and fishery cooperatives reveals grain and oilseed sales by co-ops increased more than $7 billion in 2012. Farm and ranch supply sales by co-ops climbed $7 billion, on the strength of rising energy prices. Fertilizer, feed and petroleum sales by co-ops each increased by at least $1 billion.

The USDA said net assets owned by agricultural co-ops —  ranging from local grain elevators and farm supply stores to major food and beverage processing plants — displayed a dramatic increase in 2012, rising to $82.9 billion, up 4.4 percent from $79.4 billion in 2011.

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    Greg Stiles

    Covering the Southern Oregon business and economy since 2001. Read Full
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