While the oil and gas industry makes the news, hearing about farming being successful is hard to believe, but it is true.
The Woodsboro Farmers Co-op, owned and sustained by farmers in Refugio County, was started in 1947 and is going strong 67 years later to date, according to its manager, Roxanne Wiginton.
According to the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, more than 40,000 co-ops exist in the United States.
“Last year, we filled up the grain storage tanks and had to ship out to make room,” Wiginton said.
The grain went to the Port of Corpus Christi and then was sent to Mexico.
She added that the amount of grain shipped out was a half million bushels.
The harvest last year was 430,000 bushels of corn and 2.3 million bushels of milo grain.
That’s a reason why the Woodsboro Farmers Co-op invested about $3 million to build two new storage tanks. The construction began last year in February.
“It’s expected to be completed by June 1,” she said.
That will be in time for the 2014 harvest in late June.
The two additional storage tanks add space for another one million bushels, bringing the total capacity of the co-op’s storage ability to 3 million bushels.
“We’re hoping to have the same problem as last year (not enough space),” Wiginton said.
The amount of money the co-op makes depends on the price of grain.
Last year, the price was $8 to $9 per $100 pounds. That generated $14 million gross.
The grain and corn were sold to ADM, a grain buyer based in Corpus Christi. The buyer sells to Mexico, China, Argentina and others.
She said grain is sold during fall and slow times—October and March. Other times, the retail store picks up sales for seed, crop inputs, fertilizers and chemicals.
Wiginton said in 2001, the price was $3 to $4 per 100 pounds, and that grossed $5 million.
Currently, the price is bouncing around between $8 and $8.50.
Each harvest is different, she said.
“My first harvest was in 1976. Thirty-eight harvests later, they’re all different. No two have been alike,” she said.
Wiginton has been manager with the Woodboro Farmers Co-op for 13 years.
She said the co-op has 71 active members, which includes landlords and farmers. Members have to farm in Refugio County although some farm in adjoining counties.
“The Woodsboro Farmers Co-op was originally established for only Woodsboro farmers, but over time, it became available for all Refugio County farmers.
The co-op offers agricultural service, seed, fertilizer, equipment parts and special orders, as well as a retail store.
“All profit goes back into dividends and book credits,” Wiginton said.
That means if $10,000 was the profit, then the co-op would pay a percentage in cash and a percentage back in book credits.
And the co-op equipment and storage facilities are constantly being maintained.
The facility has a contingency plan and is totally covered by Triangle Insurance Co.
In addition to Wiginton, Larry Jochetz is assistant manager; Sandy Thrash is controller; Duane Henderson is store manager; and Gilbert Vega is grain operation manager.
“We have 12 full-time employees, including me and the others mentioned, one part-time employee, and in summer we hire six to eight seasonal workers,” Wiginton said.
Already, the co-op staff and workers are preparing for the summer harvest. This time, they will be ready for larger crops yields.