West Central, FC merge into North American grain giant

Ralston to play key role in Landus

Staff report
AMES — The members of Farmers Cooperative and West Central Cooperative have approved the merger of their organizations effective April 1.

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 more than half of each membership to vote, with two-thirds of those casting ballots voting in favor of the merger.

Ballots were tallied Friday.

The unified cooperative, to be known as Landus Cooperative, will be led by current West Central President and Chief Executive Milan Kucerak, a Jefferson resident, and be headquartered in Ames.

The board will be made up of nine directors from each cooperative for equal representation.

More information will be provided as integration plans are finalized.

“Our members’ voices were heard in this merger process,” Kucerak said. “Not only in the results of the vote, but in each and every member meeting and coffee shop conversation.

“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.”

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 will have shuttle-loading access on all seven major Iowa rail lines.

“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,” said West Central board chair Sue Tronchetti, a Paton-area farmer.

“We are pleased the memberships approved the boards’ recommendation,” FC Chief Executive Jim Chism said. “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.”

Officials with both cooperatives say Ralston, currently the headquarters of West Central, will remain a vital location in the Landus operations.

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