5.14: The Current Restructuring of ‘Mixed’ or Multi-Purpose Farm Supply and Grain / Oilseed Marketing Cooperatives in the United States
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Farm supply and grain marketing cooperatives in the U.S. have made billions of dollars in asset investments since 2004. This is the biggest change in this particular cooperative sector since these cooperatives were first formed. There are various reasons for this level of investment. Crop volumes have increased in the U.S. as crop yields in corn and soybeans have increased through improvements in seed varieties and planting technologies (such as narrower rows resulting in increased seed densities per acre). In addition, cropping patterns have changed as corn and soybean seed varieties have been developed for geographic regions that historically could produce only small grains such as wheat and barley. Finally, reductions in the average planting and harvesting times, which have almost been halved due to greater horsepower being used by farmers, have placed a strain on logistics.