Saturday, August 15, 2009

There Are Good Co-ops

Lanco Annual Meeting

There are some dairy cooperatives which seem to really be working for the benefit of their members. Lanco-Pennland Quality Milk Producers, commonly known as simply Lanco is just such a co-op.

Although Lanco is headquartered in Hagerstown Maryland, many of the members are concentrated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. As might be expected, the vast majority of members are Amish or Mennonite.

Lanco member’s commitment to quality is evidenced by the fact that the average somatic cell count for the previous year was 279,000.

On July 28, 2009 Lanco’s annual meeting presented members with details provided by a few cooperatives. Every penny of expenses was detailed and listed for members to see.

Lanco has returned or reserved 91% of all milk revenue to its members. Lanco has $2 million in equity. In the previous year the cooperative has subsidized trucking by $1.8 million.

These are tough times and in the upcoming months Lanco will send out checks to members to help make it through these times at a rate of four cents per hundredweight.

Lanco was started in 1998 with 30 members. Today there are over 700 members. Approximately 70% of the members are plain people, Amish and Mennonite. Therefore, most of the farms are smaller than average creating something of a logistical disadvantage with Lanco’s competitors.

Additionally, Lanco is shutout of many plants because of full supply agreements with DFA/DMS, their trucks must drive past plants to find a home for member’s milk. Therefore, it is a tribute to both management and members that Lanco has grown steadily.

At the annual meeting, the members attending seem to appreciate the amount of data presented by Lanco CEO Kurt Williams. Kurt went through a detailed explanation of the co-ops finances.

Next, Kurt and I gave a joint power point presentation on some of the factors affecting current farm milk price. The audience remained attentive throughout the entire meeting.

Dairy farmers need more cooperatives such as Lanco.


  1. Allied Federated was that way most of the time, back in the day. Things haven't been the same since they were devoured.

  2. What about REadington Farms in Whitehouse NJ?

  3. Speaking of large bully coops in your last blog, my family had been a member of Dairylea for 80 years before we finally decided enough was enough.For the past 2 years we've been a member of a small local coop. that beleives in returning all it's profit to the farmer.One of the many complaints I had with dairylea was never being able to find out what their top executives were being paid,don't you think that in a coop. where they always brag about being farmer owned, as a member you should have a right to know? I always found them to be very secretive,and I think it,s ridiculous that nobody from dairylea will speak up on the farmers behalf.

  4. I agree with anonymous. I worked for a 1200+ member co-op from 1995 til 2005. I am now milking my own cows, and have to pick what bills to pay this month. I can hardly buy food for my family let alone feed my herd. I know when I worked at this co-op the big guys was paid more than doctors where I lived and they had expense reports to match. It didn’t matter how much the farmer was hurtin their salarys were never hurt. If they are working=2 0for us they should have to show us what they are paid. My family is a member of a small co-op now, we don’t know what the big guys are payed. We see a statement that says admin expenses and its all lumped in there. I think we need to demand to see what they are gettin. I work 16 hour days 7 days a week and don’t even make minimum wage.