U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says farmer, rancher and fishery cooperatives posted record sales and income in 2011. They surpassed the previous record sales year of 2008 by 10-billion dollars and topped the old income record by 500-million dollars. The announcement was made by USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager to kick-off National Cooperative Month. Tonsager also said co-op employment levels remained strong. Cooperatives employed 184-thousand full-time, part-time and seasonal workers – up slightly from 2010. According to Tonsager – the new cooperative sales and income records underscore the strength and productivity of the nation’s farmer and rancher-owned cooperatives and the vital role they play in the nation’s economy.
USDA says net income before taxes for all agricultural co-ops was 5.4-billion dollars – that was a jump of more than 25-percent – or one-billion dollars – from 2010. The more than 22-hundred cooperatives surveyed had sales of 213-billion dollars – exceeding 2010 sales by more than 40-billion dollars.