Cooperatives build economic power

Pure Nebraska
Published: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:28 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2022 at 5:43 PM CDT
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DORCHESTER, Neb. (KOLN) - We are taking a closer look at cooperatives during National Cooperative Month. Many co-ops have a big impact on local Nebraska communities.

Allan Zumpfe is the CEO of Farmers Cooperative, and he says cooperatives certainly help build economic power. “Farmers Cooperative is a group of farmers co-ops that have been put together since 2002,” Zumpfe said. “We have roughly 600 employees in 51 communities. About 75 storefronts total, and we do $1.5 billion in business each year. We serve about 11,000 members, and 6,500 owners who do business with us each year.”

Zumpfe says Farmers Cooperative re-invests in communities in a number of different ways. “Since 2002, we’ve spent about $400 million of capital expenditures in our communities. From fixes grain assets, to storage tanks, to agronomy services, we provide many opportunities for producers. There are many ways we are investing in our owners’ success.”

Cooperatives employ many people who stay close to home. “Many are young people who are coming back to their communities, and they want to live where they grew up,” Zumpfe said. “We are able to give them good jobs. In our last fiscal year, our payroll alone was $35 million, with benefits about $46 million. So, it’s pretty good for rural areas.”

Co-ops often contribute a lot to local taxes. “Often times we are the biggest taxpayer in our communities.” Leaders of local co-ops say the goal is to serve the member-owners. “We build relationships with our producers,” Zumpfe said. “Many are personal relationships, they are business relationships. We want to serve them. Our member-owners are the reason why we are in business.”