Weather, trade, and other issues combined to make 2019 a challenging year, but for Western Cooperative (WESTCO), it logged its seventh-best year in its history.
The 78th Annual WESTCO Stockholders’ Meeting was held Monday, Dec. 2, at the Alliance High School Performing Arts Center in Alliance with more than 150 attendees. The stockholders enjoyed a meal and learned how their cooperative had weathered the year.
“Our audited numbers came back, and we were able to report to our stockholders tonight we had a net savings of $5.1 million,” said David Briggs, CEO of the cooperative.
WESTCO will return $1.8 million in cash to members, and the Board approved equity redemption for all members 70 years and older.
Briggs reviewed the seven divisions in WESTCO and highlighted positive numbers, which included an eight percent rise in propane volume, a five percent increase in gas volume, and the second-largest year for fertilizer tons. WESTCO’s employees were also able to achieve budget and return cash to members.
“We had a lot of positives, but definitely a lot of struggles. It seemed like we were behind the whole year,” he said.
When growers did do some catch-up, hail storms came in late in the summer, damaging or destroying fields of crops.
Briggs said, for harvest, about half the bean crop came in, and two-thirds to three-fourths of the corn and sugar beet crop will be delivered.
With a short year, Briggs said they expect the bean contracts to be better than last year.
“We’ll probably announce those numbers in January or February. It’s pretty obvious it will be better than last year’s contracts. Which, will be good for our growers, to be able to have a cash flow the bean acres they do farm,” he said.
Westco also held its board meeting, where they recognized Mark Buskirk for his term on the Board. Buskirk has served on the WESTCO Board of Directors for 21 years. The Board also re-elected Erik Peterson and Allan Thorson to serve another term, and Scott Schoeneman was elected to join the Board of Directors.