Ag briefs: United Coop returns cash to its members in October

Wisconsin State Farmer


United Cooperative returns over $7.1 million in cash to its members in October

United Cooperative celebrated National Cooperative Month in October, along with 40,000 other cooperative businesses serving more than 120 million people nationwide.

As United Cooperative celebrated cooperative month, it did so by sharing profits with members. “It’s the foresight of the board of directors (made up of farmer members), the management and employees of the cooperative to recognize and plan for member-owners' changing needs and industry trends,” said David Cramer, President and CEO. “United Cooperative responds to changes at the farm gate by investing in strategically positioned assets that support agricultural producers, while at the same time, knowing that each of these investments will provide a financial return to the cooperative and its farmer members."

One way of measuring a cooperative business is by its financial performance. United Cooperative had $647 million in sales in 2017 and returned $30.1 million in total patronage to members. Forty percent of those dollars were distributed in cash in April, while 60 percent were retained in equity credits. In October, the cooperative will revolve over $7.1 million dollars to members, and retire $1.1 million dollars of stock for patrons at age 77 and pay all estates as requested.

“All these dollars circulate into the local economy, and create a better future for United Cooperative members, and the communities where they live,” said Cramer.

All totaled, United Cooperative will have paid its members over $8.2 in cash for stock revolvement in 2018. 


Farm cited, faces fines in worker's lightning death

Officials say the farm that employed a Florida woman fatally struck by lightning has been cited for failing to protect workers.

A U.S. Department of Labor news release says Occupational Health and Safety Administration inspectors determined that C.W. Hendrix Farms exposed employees to lightning strikes as they picked vegetables in inclement weather. The company faces a penalty of $12,934, the maximum amount allowed.

Authorities say 53-year-old Maria Francisco Pascual was working at the Parkland farm in May when a bolt of lightning killed her. Two others were reported injured.

The Associated Press attempted to contact C.W. Hendrix Farms, but the voicemail memory was full.


Trustee for troubled Oregon dairy plans shutdown, sale

The bankruptcy trustee for Oregon's troubled Lost Valley Farm will shut down the dairy and put it up for sale next year.

The Statesman Journal reports trustee Randy Sugarman announced the plan Wednesday for the dairy, which has been out of compliance with its wastewater permit since it opened in Boardman in April 2017.

In a status report to the court, Sugarman says the dairy needs to invest $35 million to $40 million to meet its pollution permit requirements.

Owner Greg te Velde declared bankruptcy in April to stave off a previously planned auction of cows as part of a bank foreclosure.

Sugarman asked the court last week to approve selling the cows at public auction.

Te Velde says he hadn't heard about the decision to close the dairy.


Study: Storm caused $158 million in damage to Florida crops

A new study says Florida crops suffered $158 million in damages from Hurricane Michael.

The report released Friday by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences says that almost all of the state's cotton crop was wiped out.

Those losses total around $51 million.

Florida's greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production suffered $39 million in losses and the state's peanut crop took a hit of $22 million in losses.

Damage to the area's livestock was around $23 million.

Florida lost $9 million in vegetables and melons, $4 million in fruits and $3 million in tree nuts, including pecans.

Separately, the Florida Forest Service estimates that Florida lost almost $1.3 billion in timber that would have been harvested over several years.


Dairy Farmers of America honored for supporting Future Farmers 

The National FFA Organization recently honored, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA), a national cooperative owned by dairy farm families across the U.S., with a Distinguished Service Citation.

The annual award, which was presented at the 91st National FFA Convention and Expo in Indianapolis, Ind., honors organizations, agencies, businesses or other groups who have made outstanding contributions to FFA and agricultural education on a national level.

DFA Board member Brian Rexing, a dairy farmer from Owensville, Ind., accepted the award on behalf of DFA. Culver Franchising System of Prairie du Sac, Wis., and Lincoln Electric/The James F. Lincoln Arc Welding Foundation of Cleveland, Ohio, also were honored as 2018 Distinguished Service Citation recipients.

“Developing and engaging young farmers is critical to our industry’s future, and we appreciate this honor and all the work that the FFA does to help shape future agricultural leaders,” says Kristen Coady, vice president of corporate communications at DFA.

DFA has supported the National FFA for 45 years by helping fund and assist youth pursuing education and careers in agriculture. Additionally, their support of the Milk Quality and Products Career Development Event has helped strengthen FFA members in their knowledge of quality production, processing, distribution, promotion and marketing of milk and dairy foods.


Tennessee hemp farmer chases plant thieves twice in one day

A Tennessee hemp farmer says he chased thieves off his property twice in one day, including one group who shot at him.

Tracy Lehman tells the Leaf Chronicle he spotted a group of armed men loading a truck with industrial hemp plants on Oct. 22. He says the group had lookouts and another vehicle, and someone fired at him numerous times as he chased them. He ultimately lost sight of them.

But later that night, he noticed another pickup and fired a warning shot. The driver fled, and Lehman gave chase, while alerting the Stewart County Sheriff's Office. Deputies arrested 28-year-old Coty Dawson.

Hemp is akin to marijuana but lacks enough of a psychoactive chemical to produce marijuana's intoxication. Lehman doesn't know what the thieves planned to do with the plants.