The members of Farmers Cooperative Company (FC), Ames, Iowa, and West Central Cooperative, Ralston, Iowa, have both approved the merger of their cooperatives effective April 1, 2016.
"In this merger vote, our members were presented with a rare opportunity to combine two strong, financially-stable cooperatives in a merger of equals to maintain local ownership for generations to come," explained West Central Board Chair and Paton, Iowa-area farmer Sue Tronchetti.
"We are pleased the memberships approved the boards' recommendation," said FC Chief Executive Officer Jim Chism. "We are confident that together, we will become an even stronger cooperative and be better positioned to help improve the economic well-being of our member-owners."
"On behalf of our boards, management and nearly 700 employees, we appreciate each and every member who cast a ballot in this historic cooperative merger," said FC Board President and Odebolt, Iowa-area farmer John Scott.
Each membership met Iowa's state voting requirement for a successful cooperative merger as certified by independent auditing firm of Gardiner Thomsen. To approve a merger, Iowa law requires at least 50 percent of each membership (plus one) to vote, with two-thirds of those casting ballots voting in favor of the merger.
"Our members' voices were heard in this merger process. Not only in the results of the vote, but in each and every member meeting and coffee shop conversation," explained West Central President and CEO Milan Kucerak, who will become the CEO of the newly formed cooperative.
"This merger showcases our members' request for their cooperative to do more together for their operations than either business could do separately. We take our members' confidence in a combined cooperative seriously as we prepare for integration and execution."
The unified cooperative, to be known as Landus Cooperative, will be led by current West Central President and CEO Milan Kucerak and be headquartered in Ames, Iowa. The board of directors will be made up of nine directors from each cooperative for equal representation. More information on any changes will be provided in coming months as integration plans are finalized.
Together, West Central and FC have more than 70 grain, agronomy and feed locations in 26 Iowa and three Minnesota counties. According to World Grain magazine's Grain and Milling Annual, Landus Cooperative will become the seventh largest grain company in North America based on storage capacity and have shuttle-loading access on all seven major Iowa rail lines.