From the Manager - September 2016

It is hard to believe that another fiscal year, summer, Wood Lake Fair and annual meeting have all slipped past us. Time is moving fast and harvest is just days away. 2016 has been a unique summer in that I never remember an August with rain like we have had this year. Hopefully it equates to the old adage, “Rain makes grain."

For those of you that attended the annual meeting, you witnessed Al Torke retiring from the board after twelve years of service. Al has served you the members, diligently and faithfully. Al was the president when I came to Wood Lake four years ago. In fact, Al was one of the reasons we decided to make the move to Equity. Three things impressed me about Al and the rest of the board...  First was their loyalty and commitment to Equity Elevator and Wood Lake. I remember after my first interview with the board, my wife asked me, “What do you think?” My response to her was, ”If everyone was as committed to making Equity successful as these seven guys, it was a good place to be." Secondly, Al, as well as the whole Board, was extremely honest, open and forthright with the facts. In fact, I felt Al went out of his way to be as open and transparent as anyone I had ever dealt with in a situation similar to this. In doing this job, it is not what you know, but what you do not know, that creates problems and sleepless nights. For that I am eternally grateful. And, as my third point, Al called me several times while I was contemplating the position and even after I accepted their offer and before we moved here. He just called to visit and see how things were working for us in making the transition. He was truly concerned and interested in our welfare, which in my mind, made him an excellent ambassador for both EET and Wood Lake. Al, we all offer a sincere thank you for your service to Equity Elevator and the Wood Lake community. 

I am excited about the arrival of fall weather and harvest. With our recent upgrade in the grain handling and dumping we should be able to get you in and out pretty fast. This year Jory also has a new program, 'Cash Advance Price Later'. Call Jory and have him explain how it can work to your advantage.  Make sure you check out the 'Grain Policies', effective September 1, posted in this issue of the newsletter.  Another program that is gaining in popularity is the 'Customer Loyalty Program'.  This program rewards agronomy customers with the potential of earning 10 cents per bushel premium on the price of their grain when selling to Equity Elevator, if they meet the requirements. This is strictly a voluntary program designed to reward you for your loyalty to Equity Elevator. If you sign up and decide you want to sell your grain elsewhere, you can. This is an agreement, not a contract. For more details visit with either Brooks or Jory. 

Those of you that have sold grain to Equity Elevator over the past fiscal year will be receiving a notice of your share of the DPAD allocation. The Board of Directors has decided to reallocate Equity’s DPAD allocation to you the members that sold grain this past fiscal year. You will be receiving a letter in October or November letting you know what your allocation is for your year-end tax planning. If you have any questions, please contact either Pam or me, we will be happy to help you.



Rod Winter
General Manager


From the Manager - June 2016

Beautiful spring weather as I write this, with the corn all but planted and the soybeans within a few days of finishing up with planting. Along with the erratic spring planting season, we have also had some unexpected erratic markets, particularly the soybeans. As of today, we are in the area of long held soybean positions, that are similar to 2012. This is good as the speculators keep the market volatile and moving to where we can make some money, but on the other hand if they decide to take their money out, it can go down in a hurry. Make sure you know what your costs are and have your marketing plan in place. As far as the old crop is concerned, I think we pretty well have most of the soybeans marketed but I have no idea where we really are on old crop corn in the country. Keep in mind that we cannot wait until the day after Labor Day to empty the bins and still hope to get it moved out in time for harvest. Keep in touch with Jory for markets and market planning that will fit your program and help keep you profitable.

We are going to have a changing of the guard in the Feed Department as Tom has decided to go to work as a territory manager for Form-A-Feed. His territory will include Equity Elevator, as we do some business with Form-A-Feed and plan to maintain that relationship. Tom decided to take this opportunity at this time because it will allow him to work with beef and dairy, which is his passion. Tom officially started with Form-A-Feed on June 1. We wish Tom the best of luck with his new career choice and thank him for his service at Equity Elevator.

We welcome Darian Horejsi as the Feed Mill Operations Manager. Darian’s responsibilities include supervision of the feed production, customer service and keeping the feed mill current with the host of government regulations and laws. You all know Darian from his many years with the Equity Agronomy Department as the Lead applicator. Congratulations to Darian on his promotion and we look forward to his continued years of excellent service to Equity Elevator. Check out Darian’s article in this newsletter. I am also in the process of searching for a person to do on-the-farm calling and customer service as we move forward. I am hopeful that we will be able to find the right person soon. We will keep you posted on our search progress.

Please note that feed orders can be placed with a direct call to the Feed Mill at 507.485.3191 and 507.485.3192 or via the fax at 507.485.3193. Kristy and Darian will continue to keep current with your orders and rations.

Also relating to the feed department, I recently attended HACCP/FSMA training. This training was to become a 'Certified Location Coordinator'. In order to meet the standards set up by the government for the safe manufacture of animal feeds, there are certain steps, procedures and practices that must be set up, along with detailed record keeping. A lot of these practices and procedures we already do every day. We will need to formalize and document them in order to comply with FSMA (Food Safety and Modernization  Act). The Feed and Grain Team will be continuously working on this as we move forward.  The idea behind this is to protect the safety of the American food supply. The animal industry is subject to a lot of the same regulations as the human food industry. In fact I would estimate that 80% of the human food regulations carry into the animal feed regulations. Remember, this is all done in an effort to make sure that we have not only the best food in the world, but also the safest.

Starting this summer and continuing through the balance of the year and hopefully beyond,  Equity employees will be undergoing coop and customer service training. Coop education will teach the history and fundamental concepts of the cooperative system and demonstrate how Equity is a vital part of the cooperative system in Wood Lake, the nation and the world. A very important part of our training will be Customer Service Training. In order to know what you need or want as a member will be vital in helping us plan to meet your needs with products and services. Equity wants all of its’ employees to serve you the members to best of their ability and to exceed your expectations. To start this process we will be either mailing or emailing (if we have your email address) a survey during the last half of June for you to let us know where you feel our customer service is today and let us know what you expect in the future. We will be asking for your input in grain, feed and agronomy. We ask that you honestly answer the questions in the business segments that you currently do business with Equity. (If you only do feed business with Equity, we would ask that you fill out the feed section. Or, if you do business with all three business segments we ask that you give us your input on all three.) These surveys will be returned to a third party, Russel l Associates. Your survey answers will be strictly confidential. No one at Equity will ever know what your personal responses to any of the questions are. On behalf of all the Equity employees, we sincerely ask for your participation in this survey. This is an important step in making Equity Elevator an important extension of your farming operation.

Have a safe summer!




From the Manager - March 2016

A lot of those February days looked a lot like March and reinforced the fact that spring is definitely on the way. With Easter being early this year, hopefully we will have an early spring also. February, as a month, was pretty good to us at Equity, as it allowed us to pick up our last bunker of corn. The agronomy and grain guys got the pile picked up in good shape. In fact, I am sure I have never seen a pile come up in as good a shape as this one did. I attribute that to the respectable winter weather we had along with the fact the pile went down and was covered without any moisture or problems. One other factor is the fact that last fall the guys built an excellent pile. Even though everyone worked hard at getting the job done, special kudos to Nathan Bahn for his relentless pursuit of trying to make the perfect pile. He carefully rounded the top of pile, while still filling the bunker to the top of the walls.  By having it perfectly rounded there was no place for water or snow to stand, which was easier on the tarp, contributed to maintaining quality and made it easier to pick up. I would like to extend a sincere thank you to each and everyone in the agronomy and grain department for their diligence and hard work.

The topic on most people’s mind as they stop by to visit is, “When are the corn and soybean prices going up?” The short answer is, “I don’t know”. Even though each one of you probably has a better handle on the grain markets than I do, I will share my basic thoughts. The first thing we have to realize is that at this point in time the processors and end users have a lot of their needs already covered. These end users have anywhere from 30 days to 120 days either covered or partially covered. I talked to an ethanol plant buyer just the other day. He said he is fully covered to April and 50% covered to the end of August. I would surmise the only reason they are only 50% covered into the summer months is that they know there is plenty of corn out there and it will eventually come. That tells us even if the CBOT works up, basis will likely widen. Just like it always does, basis will turn on and off the flow of grain into the market. On the other hand, if we are competitive in the world market and can export, that will be a game changer as far as getting rid of this supply in an orderly fashion. Example, I read the other day that India imported corn for the first time in 16 years. Our export possibilities are pretty closely related to the value of the dollar. Hopefully with supply and service we can become the consistent and preferred market of choice. One side note to keep in mind: corn, soybeans, dairy and pork are all very dependent on a good export market in order to keep things moving forward. With this kind of market news, what do we have to look forward to? At this point in time, I think there are two things we need to pay attention to. First, we need to watch the weather patterns. At this time I do not believe there are any premiums built into the price structure, hence even minor weather development can cause the market to spike. The second thing to keep in mind is that this is an election year. History shows us that Presidential election years usually cause markets to spike somewhere. Whether it is $.10 or $1.00, you need to be watching not only the markets, but also the outside factors that affect worldwide demand and supply. I would like to encourage you to get acquainted with Jory, our grain merchandiser, for help with marketing your grain and keeping up on the news that affects the grain markets. He can help with marketing and even moving your grain, if you so desire. Aside from all that he is a pretty nice guy.

We have seen a lot of fall out this past December and January over the bankruptcy of a local grain elevator in the area. Most everyone knows more about the details than I do, but the bottom line is people are at risk of losing thousands of dollars individually and millions of dollars collectively. This will not only affect the individuals losing the money, but also has a devastating effect on the surrounding communities and businesses. As a cooperative, we sometimes feel that we are over-regulated and scrutinized, but it is for your protection as a farmer and tax-paying citizen. The local cooperative is here for a reason, and that reason is to treat you in a fair, business-like manner. All too often I have people tell me that they can get a really special deal or get free storage or a host of other things that they feel are important to them. (One example I heard of from a state grain auditor was about a farmer that lost 50,000 bu. of corn in a similar situation. When the auditor asked the farmer why he had hauled the corn past three different coops to bring it to this elevator, his immediate response was, "Hey man, they had free storage.") Like I stated before, your local cooperative is here for a reason. Every year you have an opportunity to attend the Annual Meeting and hear a third party auditing firm, selected by the Board of Directors, present the financials and you can receive a copy of the financials, including the Balance Sheet. In a nut shell, all I am saying is that the local cooperative is not only a place to be treated fairly while conducting business, but is also a part of the community supporting activities and services for you and your family. The local cooperative is good for the community and the community is good for the local cooperative.

Check out the other articles in the newsletter and plan to attend the grain, agronomy and feed marketing meeting that has been set up for Wednesday, March 30. Also, we want to make a special mention that 'May is Beef Month' and 'June is Dairy Month'.  Remember to thank the beef and dairy producers for keeping us supplied with the best quality and tasting products in the world, right here in Southwest Minnesota.

Above all, have a safe spring!!! And remember...


Rod Winter
General Manager