Despite a depressed national economy, Southern States Cooperative's Frederick and Woodsboro branches had a successful year, board members said at their annual meeting Wednesday at the Frederick County 4-H Camp & Activities Center Inc. in Frederick.
The annual meeting offered a review of operations at the two branches.
"This has been a good year," said David Burrier, board chairman. "We've had a good season in this area. We're up by 10 percent in tons of fertilizer and units of seeds sold, and of course, revenue. Our co-op has done well.
"In agriculture, there are only so many acres to be planted, and when you increase your market share, you feel successful," Burrier said.
One of the nation's largest agricultural cooperatives, with more than 300,000 farmer-members, the Richmond, Va.-based firm provides a wide range of farm inputs, including fertilizer, seed, livestock feed and pet food, animal health supplies and petroleum products, as well as other items for the farm and home. The cooperative serves its members and nonmember customers through some 1,200 retail outlets.
If it weren't for agriculture, the Great Recession would have been a depression, board member David Harshman said.
"That's just my opinion," Harshman said. "Agriculture is carrying this country."
Harshman's opinion is shared by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which has said that the ag industry is the nation's largest employer with 23 million U.S. jobs directly related to food production.
Even though Frederick County has been spared from the drought that has consumed much of the Midwest, local farmers and agriculture stakeholders expressed concern for their compatriots during the meeting.
"We're fortunate that we are not like the West," Burrier said, "but when one sector hurts, we all hurt."
Anticipating a shortage of grain and corn, the U.S. is importing grain right now because of the drought, Burrier said.
"The grain industry is hurting because of low yield and it's devastating to all segments of the livestock industry," Burrier said.
The annual meeting is the best single opportunity to outline our plans for the future to our membership and discuss our progress in meeting our financial goals, said David Stas and Harry T. Plunkard Jr., managers of Southern States Frederick and Woodsboro branches, respectively.
Two new cooperative members, Mike Gaver and Gary Grossnickle, were elected to the board. David Burrier was elected chairman, succeeding Austin Schroyer, who retired. Ron Wood was elected vice chairman. Other board members continuing their tenure included David Harshman and Jody Bell. Bill Fouche retired.