Co-ops in Wood Lake, Morgan to merge

WOOD LAKE — Two area agricultural cooperatives are joining together this summer, after a vote by members of Equity Elevator and Trading Company of Wood Lake.

The Equity Elevator Board of Directors announced this week that co-op members approved a merger with Farmward Cooperative, of Morgan.

The merger will take effect Sept. 1, co-op leaders said. The merger with Farmward will help improve operating efficiencies, access to capital and opportunities for growth, and expand product offerings, they said.

“The focus of Equity Elevator has always been to serve our farmer patrons with products and services that allow them to be profitable and successful,” said Les Sander, Equity Elevator Board chairman. “The merger with Farmward allows us to continue providing that commitment into the future.”

In addition to its headquarters in Morgan, Farmward has locations in Clements, Comfrey, Danube, Morton, Olivia, Renville, Sacred Heart, Springfield and Wabasso. The cooperative’s agricultural services range from grain handling and marketing to bulk feed manufacturing and fuel delivery.

The cooperative also provides financial and insurance services through subsidiary companies AgQuest Financial and Northland Capital.

“We are so pleased that Equity Elevator members have voted to unify the two cooperatives. Both boards feel strongly that this merger will bring additional value to our members,” said Farmward Board Chairman Calvin Aarons. “Farmward Cooperative has a proud history on which the foundation has been laid for building a promising future for generations to come.”

A reverse triangular structure is being used for the merger plan, Farmward said in its merger announcement. That meant only Equity Elevator members were required to vote to approve it. Under state requirements, Equity Elevator needed to pass a two-thirds vote to approve the merger. The vote passed, with 86% of the votes in favor of the merger, the announcement said.

The name of the merged co-op will be Farmward Cooperative, and will be led by current Farmward C.E.O. Dave Stuk. Equity Elevator C.E.O. Rod Winter will retire. More information on the merger process will be available over the next six weeks, Farmward’s announcement said.