Farmers Pride Coop.
For Farmers Pride Coop (Farmers Pride), a 6,000-member strong farm supply and grain marketing cooperative, business is based on a simple purpose: helping the farmers who feed the world. This requires the Nebraska-based cooperative to be acutely in tune with its members’ needs, even if it means a multimillion dollar expansion.
With 13 locations, Farmers Pride serves agricultural producers, commercial customers and homeowners throughout a 30 county expanse in northeast Nebraska. In an effort to better serve its broad customer base, the cooperative has invested a huge amount in its Neligh, Nebraska, facility.
“We have added a new 4,700 bushel an hour dryer, as well as a 20,000 bushel an hour receiving leg,” reveals Dean Thernes, general manager of Farmers Pride. “Additionally, a new 150,000-bushel wet bin and two new 635,000 grain storage bins are ready for harvest. Grain deliveries will be streamlined as customers will be able to sample, weigh and dump at a new dump-through scale, pull out, grab an electronic ticket and be on the way back to the field.”
Service and support since 1934
Thernes notes the upgrades are all about assisting producers in harvest efficiency; after all, Farmers Pride has built its business over the last 80 years around such support. “Farmers Pride was established in Battle Creek, Nebraska, as a creamery cooperative in 1929,” details Thernes. “Today, the company serves a customer base of approximately 9,200 customers, including 6,000 members.”
Farmers Pride covers Battle Creek, Bloomfield, Ewing, Madison, Newman Grove, Neligh, Oakdale, Oakland, O’Neill, Osmond, Pierce, Plainview and Snyder with approximately 100 year-round employees. The cooperative’s five core aspects of business are: grain, feed, agronomy, energy and transportation.
Attuned with customer needs
With global population on the rise, the pressure is on farmers. The average farmer is expected to produce more, faster and Farmers Pride is here to help. “It is estimated that each American farmer now feeds 155 people per year; 20 years ago, they fed 85 people per year,” compares Thernes. “Farming is more than just a job or way of life – it’s the center of economics for every nation and a vital part of everyone’s day.”
This is why Farmers Pride continues to invest in facilities, equipment and technology to ensure the cooperative is able to meet customer’s ever-changing needs. In planning several expansion projects, Thernes explains that the cooperative took the time to sit down with member-producers to truly understand what could help them rise to meet demand.
“We sat down with a farmer group, actually twice, and received their input and design as far as what they’ve seen at other receiving terminals that they liked or didn’t like and we incorporated that into our process in building the Neligh facility,” he explains.
After gathering input, in January 2014, Farmers Pride approved $22 million in facility upgrades to Neligh, Osmond and Newman Grove, with $7.5 million dedicated to the Neligh location alone.
“It’s a very large investment,” measures Thernes. “Again, it’s farmer-owned and farmer-supported. They’re the ones who made this happen and we appreciate their support. Without them, obviously, this would not have been possible.”
The three-facility expansion includes new bin storage, increased legging and new dryers across Neligh, Osmond and Newman Grove. “Neligh will have 1,400,000 added bushels, Newman Grove with 560,000 added bushels and Osmond with a net increase of 650,000 bushels; these projects are great long-term investments to service our member-owners for many years to come,” addresses Thernes.
“In Osmond, the new receiving leg will allow customers to pull semis in and dump the truck without moving with the speed of the new legs handling 30,000 bushels per hour, “adds Thernes. “We have also added two dryer legs to feed the dryer without slowing down the receiving capacity.”
What’s new at Neligh
At Neligh, the two larger bins, each holding 630,000 bushels, will be used for corn. A third wet grain bin will hold another 150,000 bushels, adding on to what was the largest bin, previously holding 400,000 bushels.
The new dryer will dry 4,500 bushels per hour and the new grain leg will move 20,000 bushels per hour; that’s serious leg work. These upgrades, combined with a covered scale, will keep semis moving no matter the weather conditions, according to Thernes.
The expansion also includes moving the gate and widening the driveway to allow for three lanes of traffic. In September 2014, Farmers Pride hosted an open house to showcase the Neligh updates.
And the cooperative isn’t stopping there; Farmers Pride is also gaining ground on the transportation side. “We have also increased our trucking fleet and we’ve added a new bulk fuel plant in Ewing,” shares Thernes.
After surviving the big swings in weather in 2014 – everything from hail to tornadoes and one of the wettest Junes in history – the time for Farmers Pride members to realize 2014’s yield has come and gone. Harvest time brings a bounty in production, but also in knowledge, as farmers found out what crop plans and decisions have turned over.
Luckily, the farmers are not alone. Bryan D. Hoffman, Farmers Pride agronomy department manager, offers guidance: “In recent years, there has been a number of high-tech tools that have been developed to help with growing and managing our crops,” he says in the Farmers Pride September 2014 newsletter. “One such tool is the R7 that our Farmers Pride agronomists have used to make Variable Rate Planting applications, to view In-Season Satellite Imagery and review harvest yield data. Having yield data can be extremely helpful in identifying problem areas in our fields to better manage them. Not only does it help show us where the weaker areas of our field, it also shows us which parts are thriving.”
Hoffman was sure to remind customers of the importance of letting agronomy professionals know as soon as the fields were harvested, ensuring a sample was collected before the ground froze.
“We have been fortunate the last couple of years, because snow cover was little to non-existent, which allowed us to not only take soil samples later in the year, but also allowed for fall application of fertilizer and lime to be carried even into the winter months,” he details. “Thus, we need make the most of the time we have.”
While farmers make the most of their time through harvest season, Farmers Pride Coop is busy backing each member with full-scale upgrades and services to make the most of an ever-challenging operation.