Agriculture

Ursa Farmers Co-op kicks off centennial celebration

Ursa Farmers Co-op board member Craig Sutter watches as President Ted Knorr announces the raffle prize, a Mahindra Roxor, at the Co-op's 99th Annual Meeting at the Oakley Lindsay Center on Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019. Raffle tickets will be sold by 13 local FFA Chapters and the chapter with most tickets sold will be rewarded a cash prize from the Co-op. | H-W Photo/Katelyn Metzger
Katelyn Metzger1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 21, 2019 12:01 am

QUINCY -- Ursa Farmers Cooperative General Manager Roger Hugenberg says things went very well right up to the end of the past fiscal year.

"Our fiscal year ends May 31. On May 30, we had a levee breach at Gregory Landing," Hugenberg said. "We got a location underwater and are in the process of doing cleanup now."

Ursa Farmers Cooperative looked back on its 99th fiscal year with Tuesday night's annual meeting, held at the Oakley-Lindsay Center, and kicked off the celebration of its 100th.

"This year is kind of a look back on where we've come from and looking forward to where we're going," UFC Board President Ted Knorr. "I think the co-op's going to continue to grow and meet the needs of its membership."

The membership turned out for the meeting featuring a pork chop meal, business reports, director elections, entertainment by comedian Andy Beningo and the unveiling of a 2019 Mahindra Roxor the co-op is giving away to celebrate its centennial.

Raffle tickets go on sale Saturday at $10 each and will be available at UFC locations and from 14 FFA chapters -- Central, Illini West, Liberty, Payson, Quincy, Southeaster, Unity and Warsaw in Illinois; Canton R-5, Clark County R-2, Lewis County C-2, Marion County R-II and Palmyra in Missouri and Central Lee in Iowa.

A maximum of 2,000 tickets will be sold through Nov. 30, and the winner will be announced with a live Facebook drawing on Dec. 16.

The FFA chapter that sells the most tickets will get $1,500, the chapter that sells the winning ticket will get $1,000 and each chapter that sells at least 50 tickets will get $250.

Supporting FFA through the raffle "was something we wanted to do. It's something near and dear to our hearts," UFC Controller Karen Voss said. "We try to help local schools in general, FFA chapters especially."

Knorr credited the co-op's membership for its ongoing success – and its ability to make a difference in the communities it serves.

"As far as grain, as far as earnings, Ursa Farmers had a good year, generating earnings of about $4.3 million before taxes," Hugenberg said.

But the year brought ongoing challenges tied to the Mississippi River.

"From the end of December to basically the first of August, we were unable to ship any grain down the river. Once the river opened up, it was limited shipping at best," Knorr said. "Things are picking up now. We're starting to move some grain, play a little catch-up and be prepared for fall."

A significant amount of acres in the co-op's service area in Illinois, Iowa and Missouri were flooded or not planted due to the wet conditions, but "we remain optimistic as far as the crop," Hugenberg said. "It was late-planted but has potential."

UFC serves about 4,700 members in Iowa, Illinois and Missouri, predominantly in Illinois and Missouri, with 88 full-time employees and another 10 or more seasonal part-time employees.

The co-op operates 10 locations in Illinois and Missouri – four river terminals and six inland sites – along with an administrative office.

Clean-up efforts began two weeks ago at the Gregory Landing site, Knorr said, and will be a long process.

"We'd like to keep that facility as a river-loading facility, but we don't know the extent of the damage," he said. "We'll just have to see how things turn out."