Key Cooperative: A Total Partner in Crop Production

Key Cooperative (Key) has been a driving force behind Iowa’s farming community since its founding in 1920. Key maintains a network of locations peppered across 19 communities in the south-central region of the state, equipping farmers with the knowledge and products to reap more from every square acre. In recent years, Key has helped its farming communities by staying up-to-date with technology to add value where it matters, while keeping a personal touch that builds trust.
 
“Key is a highly customer-centric organization and we really see ourselves as a business partner to our customer base,” asserts Jim Magnuson, CEO of Key. “As a cooperative, members own the company and can steer the organization toward areas that benefit the customer base most directly and with greatest impact. Every year’s profits are recycled back into the system to make changes that help farming families take care of their bottom line.”
 
From grain marketing to agronomy and variable rate application consultations, the Key team has the experience and enthusiasm to keep farmers ahead of the curve at every stage of crop production. Key represents a mix of old-standbys and cutting-edge products from leading manufacturers. Key also sells seed, crop nutrients and crop protection products.
 
Covering the Basics
 
Key also provides an experienced team of professionals to run the lumber and construction department, where customers can purchase materials or arrange construction by the cooperative’s crews. The team’s capabilities extend to cement work, pole building and machine shed construction, custom home construction and remodeling, barn re-skinning and industrial and commercial construction.
 
Through Centrol, Key’s wholly-owned subsidiary, farmers have access to complete crop consultation services where crop specialists provide sound, unbiased recommendations that maximize the margin between input cost and crop revenue. Through the crop scouting service, the Centrol team will monitor client crops weekly throughout the summer to compile data and build a complete crop production plan that optimizes results.
 
Centrol can enhance results with yield mapping, soil sampling services and crop testing. The team can take tissue samples from corn stalks as well as test for disease, soil nutrients and damaging insects. The Centrol team uses geo-reference soil sampling to produce precise recommendations and ensure the right product is applied at the right time and location.
 
Key’s agronomy team also provides crop insurance through licensed agents to help farmers mitigate risk with crop-hail and other crop-peril plans. When combined with Key’s other services, the team can assemble a complete-risk management program to protect the farmer and the farm family’s bottom line. Key developed and launched the AgroMetrix tool, a web-based program that helps users maximize the margin between input costs and crop revenue. Key’s agronomy specialists can use the tool to build a production program guaranteed to pay for itself based on real-time future grain contract values.
 
Staying Ahead of the Curve
 
Once harvest is over, Key becomes a one-stop shop for grain services. Key has the infrastructure to handle grain drying and storage and was the developer of the grain storage condominium concept that is now used by a number of mid western cooperatives. The cooperative is constantly investing in more grain infrastructure and recently brought a new grain elevator site online in 2011. As grain prices continue to fluctuate, Key has invested in a mobile platform providing up-to-date market and grain price information right on producers’ phones through a mobile website and text messaging and email services
 
Key meets area livestock producers needs with state-of-the-art milling facilities processing nearly 6 million bushels of corn annually into high quality livestock feed. The refined fuel needs of customers are met with a sophisticated customer tank level monitoring and delivery routing system through Key’s fuels provider, Cenex.
 
“We’re always looking for opportunities to grow and to serve our client base better,” says Magnuson. “Advances in technology have created more ways for us to stay in touch with our membership than ever before,” he continues.
 
Behind the scenes, Key’s board of directors are constantly working towards strengthening the cooperative’s customer value and recruiting highly trained individuals to fuel the cooperative’s growth. In turn, the cooperative will have the critical resources to keep Key ahead of the competition with technology, infrastructure and technical expertise. In the process, the Key Cooperative team helps to ensure its continued success and the livelihood of central Iowa’s farming communities.