One of my customers in southwest Iowa is a producer named Gerry. He farms a few hundred acres and owns a fuel business that services other farmers.
Gerry’s a very friendly guy and enjoys talking to folks. He especially likes to watch people’s response when he announces with pride, “I’m part owner of a $20 billion company.”
Gerry’s referring to his ownership stake in FCSAmerica, a customer-owned financial cooperative. When I ask Gerry why he’s so jazzed about this, he talks about the fact that all the folks at the cooperative work for him, not for a corporation. The profits from the business go back to Gerry and his farmer neighbors versus a private owner or remote corporate office. Gerry likes the cooperative business model because it lets him join with his peers in collectively owning a business that serves only them.
In my job as a financial officer, I often get to tell other producers about the value of the cooperative model. I like to quote Gerry because there’s no one I know who’s done a better job of describing the bottom line business benefit for agricultural producers.