Seasons of Change

Nov 09, 2021

Seasons of Change
By the time this hits your mailbox, harvest will be wrapping up and fall tillage will be nearing completion. It seems as though most producers throughout our area are pleasantly surprised by average yields despite the dry season. I hope the season has been enjoyable and prosperous for you! While you’ve been busy in the field, your UFC board of directors has been hard at work discussing, strategizing and planning for 2022 and beyond. Thanks to loosening COVID restrictions, the board has been able to get back into the “normal” swing of things and attend routine industry update meetings. In August, the board also attended the annual, two day strategy retreat. This two day retreat served as a great opportunity for your board to strictly focus on the plans and priorities for the future of UFC. 

Our time at the industry update meetings was well spent. We are able to speak with other cooperative directors, learn the latest challenges and updates within the industry and what projections are being made for the industry’s future. Specifically supply chain constraints, crop nutrient shortages and price increases were all key topics of discussion. The cooperative system as a whole was another key topic of discussion. While attending one of these meetings, a speaker shared an interesting statistic. In 1990 there were 3,100 cooperatives. Today, there are only 1,100 which goes to show the number of mergers and consolidations that are happening. Given the existing supply chain constraints and challenges within the market place this trend will continue. 

At the annual strategy retreat, a large focal point of our conversations surrounded the current challenges within the marketplace and how they will impact the business and patrons beyond 2022. With these considerations in mind, the board identified a list of ten priorities for 2022, 2023 and 2024 as well as a list of five directives for the UFC management team to work towards implementing throughout the next four years. In the end, our goal is to put your cooperative in a successful and sustainable position now and for the future. 

The cooperative’s future success is dependent upon the actions and decisions we make today. We must revisit our existing systems and processes with a critical eye, and rethink how we are currently doing things. The agriculture industry itself has significantly changed with the evolution of science and technology, yet the cooperative system has been slow to keep up with the change. UFC must continue to advance systems, increase efficiencies and employ long term strategies in order to support needs of our growing member-owners. 

Statistics show the number of cooperatives is declining; however, I firmly believe the influence of the cooperative system is not. The opportunities for our future success are endless, but we must be willing to have an open mind and make changes. In the last three years, we’ve had to make many decisions that were difficult and unpopular. Yet, these decisions have served us well and proven to be the best course of action for the longevity and financial health of the business. We are on the right path, now we must keep going. Together, your board of directors fully recognizes the exciting opportunities that are within reach for UFC. We also recognize the significant influence of the cooperative system as it relates to our member-owners, and we do not take this lightly. Throughout the next fiscal year, your board of directors, leadership team and UFC employees will continue to work hard and make strategic decisions that will allow us to capitalize on new opportunities. Given our strong performance record UFC is in an attractive position to ignite change and collaboration within the cooperative system in our region. I won’t say much more than this, other than it is an exciting time to be in agriculture! I look forward to the revolutionary and formative months ahead for UFC! 


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