Growing from Strong Cooperative Roots
When you choose to do business with Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company’s (FAC), you benefit yourself, your fellow co-op members, and your local community. We’ve been serving the local area for generations, we’ve learned how to adapt to changing times and we plan to stay competitive and independent. Through it all, we’re rooted in your long-term success.
Farmers first began to work together to form a business structure in 1917, when a stock company was created in Arcadia so farmers could conduct their own grain business. By April 23, 1917, the company was formally organized as Farmers Elevator Company. Shares in the stock company cost $50 each.
The new company specialized in grain, coal, lumber, livestock and all other farm produce and supplies, as well as the operation of the flour and feed mills, noted the book Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company, Serving Area Farmers for 75 Years: 1937-2012.
FAC’s cooperative story began on Friday, January 29, 1937, during the annual meeting of the Farmers Elevator Company. Members decided to switch from a stock company to a cooperative under the Iowa Code. Fifty-six of the 100 stockholders attended the annual meeting, and all voted in favor of the change.
A cooperative membership cost $10, of which $1 in cash had to be paid at the time of issuance. The remainder of the membership could be taken out of patronage dividends. By the first year of business, the cooperative had 108 members. Among the organizations that owned memberships in the cooperatives were the Arcadia Opera House, along with local churches and schools.
Since those early years, FAC has continued to evolve, enduring many challenges and achieving many accomplishments along the way, including:
When the first annual meeting was held on March 4 at the St. John’s school hall in Arcadia, some of the director’s wives prepared meatloaf sandwiches for the meal. Board members were elected, bylaws were discussed and the cooperative was ready to move into the future.
During the 1945 annual meeting, the first patronage refund was declared for the amount of $10,037.26. Business was good in the 1940s, allowing the cooperative during fiscal year 1948-49 to build ten steel grain bins that held 23,269 bushels of grain. Commodity prices ranged from $1.06 per bushel on corn to 68 cents for oats to $2.45 for soybeans.
The 1950s and 1960s were FAC’s growing years.
FAC opened a new feed mill in 1958. By 1961-62, the cooperative had grain storage capacity of 554,797 bushels.
By the co-op’s 30th anniversary, the business had 14 employees and gross sales of $1.6 million. Agronomy products and services became a more important part of the business, and interest in anhydrous ammonia fertilizer grew.
Crews constructed a new concrete elevator in Arcadia with a capacity of more than 1.18 million bushels.
FAC celebrated the grand opening of its new office, feed mill, lumberyard and concrete elevator in Arcadia.
FAC opened a new feed mill in 1981, debuted the co-op’s new logo in 1982 and opened a new cardtrol fueling station in Arcadia in 1984.
When FAC celebrated its 50th anniversary during the Farm Crisis, the co-op reported sales of $13.1 million for the fiscal year, up roughly $1 million from the previous year.
FAC added new locations, starting with a convenience store in Westside in 1990 and growing to include co-op locations in Westside and Schleswig. When FAC purchased assets in Schleswig, this marked a change in Schleswig from a privately owned business to a cooperative. Members began to see a variety of benefits, including patronage dividends. (Members essentially “invest” with us each time they do business with FAC. The patronage dividend check they can receive is based on the dollars the member spent at the cooperative during a given year.)
By FAC’s 75th anniversary, the cooperative had grown to a $100 million company guided by a seven-member board. The business had 74 full-time employees, 664 Class A members and 297 Class B members. The cooperative had a total grain storage capacity of 6.7 million bushels.
Today, FAC continues to specialize in grain, agronomy, feed, lumber, and petroleum and values the opportunity to serve local communities.