CHS the nation’s largest ag cooperative

2010 was a very good year for farmer cooperatives, USDA reports the nation’s 100 largest co-ops had sales of $118 billion for the year. While sales were up 4 percent from the previous year, net income increased 10 percent to $2.39 billion.

CHS Incorporated topped the list with revenue of $25.3 billion in 2010 while another St Paul-based co-op, Land O’Lakes came in second with sales of $11.1 billion. Dairy Farmers of America was third with sales of $9.8 billion. 23 of the top 100 co-ops had revenues exceeding $1 billion.

Dairy cooperatives saw the biggest increase in revenue climbing 14.5 percent from 2009 to 2010 thanks to higher milk prices. Five of the top-10 are dairy co-ops. (LOL, DFA, California Dairies, AMPI and Northwest Dairy Association of Seattle)

The ag department reports gross margins, as a percent of total sales, were up slightly to 9.2 percent. The increase in gross margins partially covered higher expenses. Gross margins plus service revenue climbed to $684 million.

Total expenses for the top 100 ag co-ops were up $575 million in 2010. The largest cost increase was for labor, where expenses climbed by 7 percent, to $4.6 billion. On the other hand, lower interest rates and less debt caused interest expense to drop 11 percent.

The asset base for the top 100 ag co-ops grew by $2.3 billion between 2009 and 2010. Current assets accounted for nearly two-thirds of that increase. Fixed assets also showed an increase of $600 million.

The complete list of top 100 ag cooperatives available here:

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