CHS Inc. leadership told its members that it is strategically and financially prepared to invest in helping its farmer, rancher and local co-op owners grow and succeed in a dynamic global agricultural marketplace.
"Our strategic aspirations are in place. We have clearly defined strategies. And, we have the financial foundation for investing in our energy, grains and foods businesses," Carl Casale, CHS president and chief executive officer, told the cooperative's 2,000 owners and others gathered for its annual meeting Dec. 7-8 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.
Casale said during the past year the company has made or announced plans to make investments in its businesses totaling more than $1.3 billion.
"In many cases, these investments have been directly with our owners and, in all cases, for our owners," he said. "There's no question that when cooperatives do business with cooperatives, the entire enterprise grows stronger. Our job in 2012 and beyond will be to offer choices that will help you grow in your local marketplace, and then to execute these choices well."
In November, CHS announced record earnings for fiscal 2011 (Sept. 1, 2010 – Aug. 31, 2011) of $961.4 million of which an estimated $421 million will be returned to CHS owners as cash patronage, equity redemptions and preferred stock dividends during fiscal 2012.
David Kastelic, CHS executive vice president and chief financial officer, said delivering consistently strong financial performance supports cooperative growth by maintaining a sound balance sheet, allowing investments in current businesses and in new opportunities, and supporting cash returns that support growth on the farm and at the local cooperative level.
CHS Board Chairman Michael Toelle, a Browns Valley, Minn., farmer, told members that "while we're certainly proud of that performance, what's more important is what it represents – our ability to help you grow, by providing a return on your business with CHS and your ongoing ownership in this company."
Among recent CHS highlights reported at the annual meeting were:
-Plans for acquiring minority owners' interests in the National Cooperative Refinery Association, making CHS the sole owner by Sept. 1, 2015, and enhancing supplies of diesel and other refined fuels to its customers.
-Purchase of a soybean crushing plant at Creston, Iowa, and planned acquisition of Solbar, an Israeli soy protein company with operations in that country, the U.S. and China.
-Acquisition of Agri Point Limited including a western Black Sea grain terminal and access to grain origination via the Danube River in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Serbia.
-Establishment of a Seoul, South Korea, grain marketing office to better access growing Asian demand.
-Announcements of nearly $50 million in investments to enhance refined fuels distribution infrastructure in the northern tier region including Montana and North Dakota.
-Partnerships with member cooperatives on grain shuttle loader projects with member cooperatives in Montana, Nebraska and North Dakota.
-Commitment to strengthening its Pacific Northwest export position through terminal investments at Kalama, Wash., and potential growth of its Temco export terminal joint venture at Tacoma, Wash.