April 2018
Co-op Matters

A Record-Breaking Year

AFC’s annual membership meeting celebrated the unprecedented successes of 2017.

 

AFC President and CEO Rivers Myres addresses members at the 81st Annual Membership Meeting. Photo credit: Morgan Graham

AFC President and CEO Rivers Myres kicked off his comments at Alabama Farmers Cooperative’s 81st Annual Membership Meeting by reflecting on how quickly time flies.

"It’s hard to believe this is my fifth annual meeting as your CEO," Myres said. "It seems like every year just keeps getting better."

He stated that AFC’s vision to be the best at what we do is important, but "great vision without great people is irrelevant. This year we not only had a successful year financially, but we also expanded our facilities, improved our processes and, most importantly, we strengthened our relationships with each other."

He added that AFC’s greatest asset is its people.

Myres continued with his message that AFC is building a team not only to win today but to keep AFC strong in the decades ahead. He said that focusing only on the goal to be the best can lead to not taking the time to celebrate the significant accomplishments that occur along the way.

"Our growth – as a team and as individuals – is just as important as the end result we create," he stated.

Myres is focused on creating a winning team built for the long term at AFC.

Myres continued to the operating results from 2017.

"Our Member Cooperatives had another strong year," said Myres, adding that 87 percent of the cooperatives reported a profit from operations in 2017.

"AFC’s Member Cooperatives and operating divisions’ consistent pursuit of excellence played a significant role in AFC’s great year," Myres said.

He further reported that, as a result, AFC was returning $7.1 million in patronage to its Members, an increase of 58 percent over the prior year.

Myres announced the board of directors approved AFC retiring the 1996 equity, returning an additional $3 million to the Members in April 2018.

He closed his remarks by thanking the AFC community: the Members, the employees and the board of directors.

"Thank you for your loyalty, integrity and dependability," he said. "Every day you suit up, show up and give this company all you’ve got. I want you to know how much I respect and appreciate that! I am proud to be your CEO."

Thomas Hallin, AFC’s Secretary, Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer, presented the report from the audit firm of RSM, Orlando, Florida.

"AFC’s financial position has never been stronger," he reported. "2017 was the seventh most-profitable year in AFC history, despite drought and weather challenges."

Hallin explained that all divisions of AFC were profitable in 2017 – a fact AFC leaders and Members alike should take pride in knowing.

After Hallin’s report, videos featuring the leaders of each AFC’s division gave the membership a more detailed look at the past year.

Among those highlights, Currie Gin processed 46,000 bales of cotton, thanks in part to a rebuilt gin press. The Grain Division completed the expansion at the Florence Grain facility and, more important, returned to profitability. Agri-AFC had a record-breaking year, recording the highest sales and profits in its history while contributing over 70 percent of AFC’s patronage.

2017 saw the completion of SouthFresh Aquaculture’s freezer and chiller projects, bringing that division’s storage capacity to 1.4 million pounds.

Feed, Farm & Home continued to improve the feed mill and their warehouse operations.

Despite a challenging year for a variety of reasons, Bonnie Plants President Stan Cope reported record sales in 2017, along with huge strides in brand awareness brought about in part by the partnership with ScottsMiracle-Gro.

Following the announcement of nominations for the AFC board of directors, Jimmy Newby, Limestone Farmers Co-op, and Brooks Hayes, Headland Peanut Warehouse Co-op, were re-elected to the board by acclamation. Afterward, outgoing Board Chairman Mike Tate thanked AFC members, the board and employees for their contributions to the organization’s success during his tenure.

"It has been an honor to serve as Chairman of Alabama Farmers Cooperative Board of Directors for the past two years," Tate said. "It is evident our members have used the good years of recent memory to prepare their financial house for the downturn in commodity prices. This will ensure their ability to support our farmer-owners during the critical period we now face."

After a question-and-answer panel with AFC senior staff, Tate ceremonially handed the chairman’s gavel to incoming Board Chairman David Womack. Womack announced the 82nd Annual Membership Meeting will held in Montgomery Feb. 6-7, 2019.

Womack, a member of the Atmore Truckers Association, is in his 11th year as an AFC board member.

"It’s a privilege to come into this position on the heels of a year like the one we’ve just had and to be associated with a senior staff like the one we have," Womack said after the meeting. "They truly believe in helping the company and the farmer."

 

Mary Catherine Gaston in a freelance writer from Americus, Georgia.