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Mid-Iowa Co-Op merges with East Central Iowa Co-Op

T-R PHOTO BY CHUCK FRIEND - Shown is the Mid-Iowa Cooperative management office in Conrad. Area farmers received a boost when they were given notice this week Mid-Iowa Cooperative and East Central Iowa Cooperatives had approved a merger, brigning extended services to those already offered to MId-Iowa members.

CONRAD — As export markets for Iowa agricultural products become increasingly important for local rural communities, an approved unification between Mid-Iowa Cooperative and East Central Iowa Cooperative (ECIC) will create new opportunities to help area farmers thrive in today’s global economy.

“Every new growing season creates new beginnings, and that’s especially true this year,” Mike Kinley, CEO of Mid-Iowa Cooperative said. “This merger will help us maximize new opportunities to become the local partner in modern global markets.”

Kinley said that ECIC approached Mid-Iowa in early 2019 after their manager left and that led to talks about a potential merger. On April 3, more than 90 percent of the members of ECIC approved the proposed merger with Mid-Iowa Cooperative. Nearly 60 percent of eligible ECIC members voted.

In a prepared statement printed in the press release on the Mid-Iowa website Mike Reiter, ECIC board president, said “It was time to partner with a company that has a vision for the future and builds long-term relationships based on trust,” said. “We found a like-minded partner in Mid-Iowa Cooperative.”

ECIC has present locations in Hudson, Cedar Falls, Waterloo, LaPorte City and Jesup. Mid-Iowa’s locations include Conrad, Beaman, Liscomb, Green Mountain, Garwin, Gladbrook, Haverhill, Midway (near Toledo) and Mill Junction (near Holland).

“We are not trying to be the biggest coop in Iowa, just trying to be the best,” Kinley said. “We are always looking for ways in which we can improve our service to our members. ECIC had something that in the past we could not provide and makes this a good fit for us as well.”

That being the fact that ECIC has access to one Class 1mainline railroad (Canadian National) via its rail-loading facility at Cedar Falls, and also has rail access on the Iowa Northern Railroad via its La Porte City facilities, which can also load grain and unload liquid propane.

In his prepared statement, Bob Hogle, Mid-Iowa Board President said, “Mid-Iowa currently has no rail-loading facilities, so being able to ship grain by rail and receive liquid propane is a big benefit. These assets can open up Mid-Iowa’s grain marketing options and enhance our growing energy business. ECIC’ successful feed business represents another opportunity to add value to the grain Mid-Iowa originates from its members.”

Now that the merger has been approved, the new company will retain the Mid-Iowa Cooperative name and will be headquartered in Conrad. Kinley pointed out that advantages of the unified cooperative include:

• Combined cash flows that will allow for larger investments in modern facilities and equipment.

• Ability to attract and retain top talent to serve members throughout our trade territory.

• Ownership that will continue to belong to local farmers.

Although agriculture has experienced a sustained economic downturn in the last few years, standing still is not a viable risk-management strategy, Kinley said.

“We want to remain relevant and position Mid-Iowa for the future. Unifying with ECIC offers a way to strengthen both companies while focusing on our core values of staying connected to our local area, helping farmers and rural communities thrive, and building lifelong relationships through understanding and trust–one day at a time, “ he added.

Shortly after the addition of the Mill Junction facility which opened last fall, Kinley noted that Mid-Iowa acquired the Sinclair Elevator (and its affiliates) location east of Parkersburg. The Mid-Iowa/ECIC merger took place immediately with the financial closing set to be completed in August,” Kinley said.

“Since the merger in 1996 that created the original Mid-Iowa Cooperative, the company has experienced more than 650 percent growth, putting Mid-Iowa in the top 10 percent of all Iowa cooperatives in terms of sales and profitability,” Kinley concluded.