Andy Swerlein, Luckey Farmers President and CEO recently gave a company update at the 2018 Annual Meeting. Below are his comments.
I am pleased to announce another profitable year as we continue to navigate through challenging times in agriculture. With lower prices and slim margins, your cooperative was able to produce a net savings of $1,414,048 from $101,616,523 in sales. This will allow your cooperative to return to the membership $1,000,000 in patronage of which 50% will be distributed in cash and the remaining 50% in equity credits. This amounts to 8.5 cents per bushel local and 3 cents on direct for member grain sales, 1% on agronomy products purchased and 3% on fuel purchased. I’m also pleased to announce that Luckey Farmers Board of Directors has approved old stock purchases dating back to the 1970’s and stock from the Perrysburg merger in 1989. The stock purchases will total around $300,000 and will help clean up some of the cooperatives records as we try to keep our membership stock record current.
Not only is your cooperative committed to managing your equity and returning profits back to your farm, we have also made significant improvements to our assets to keep up with the demand for speed and service. We have just completed a $7.5 million dollar agronomy center with a 60×60 office and new 10,000 square foot transport garage in Bradner. This is in addition to the $6 million dollars spent in our agronomy center at Graytown. These improvements along with upgrades in technology and software will allow us to consolidate our older facilities and improve our ability to trace everything that goes to your farm. This is imperative as we continue to face challenges in Western Lake Erie Basin with water quality concerns.
As environmental pressures increase, we continue to look for ways to help our members adopt best management practices to utilize nutrients efficiently. Not only does this promote good stewardship, it also increases member profitability. That is why we entered into a partnership with Widmer and Associates. This will operate as a separate division of Luckey Farmers as W&A Crop Solutions. They bring a wealth of agronomic knowledge in precision agriculture and a collaborative approach to helping our members maximize their profits with best management practices.
Our grain division has also seen some upgrades with the replacement of a receiving leg at our Sugar Ridge branch. This improvement along with upgrades to our grain dryer at Lemoyne and small upgrades at our other branches will continue to improve our ability to handle the harvest pressure. With increased weather volatility, we realize that speed and space is needed at harvest time in order to handle larger yields in a more compressed time.
Our commitment to providing the highest quality products and services is behind every decision we make at Luckey Farmers. In 2019, the cooperative will celebrate its 100-year anniversary. We understand that success in one year – or over 100 years – does not ensure success for tomorrow. That is why we continuously review the direction of our cooperative. Are we making the right decisions in grain marketing? Can we better leverage our purchasing power and storage capacity to give members an edge on prices? Are we taking advantage of new technology and knowledge to provide best possible service to our members and customers? Are we nimble enough?
Throughout its 100 years, Luckey Farmers has met these and hundreds of other self-examining questions head on. Striving for continuous improvement and adapting to change helped make your cooperative successful in the past – and will help ensure its success in the future.
I want to thank the Board of Directors and our employees for their hard work and dedication. I also want to thank our members and customers for their continued support and business.