2 large co-ops announce merger

Courtesy of Co-Alliance Cooperative Inc. cornfield at sunset
NEW DAY FOR AG: Co-Alliance Cooperative Inc. and Harvest Land Co-op Inc. will merge Feb. 1, with operations in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Co-op leaders believe they’re well-positioned for the future.
Co-Alliance Cooperative Inc. and Harvest Land Co-op Inc. will merge Feb. 1.

Two large Indiana-based cooperatives will officially become one on Feb. 1. Harvest Land Co-op Inc., based in Richmond, and Co-Alliance Cooperative Inc., based in Avon, will merge. Even though the merger was sought by both sides, the new name will be Co-Alliance Cooperative Inc.

Harvest Land Co-op has a strong presence in east-central Indiana and southwest Ohio. Co-Alliance Cooperative has numerous outlets in eastern Illinois, central and northern Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio.

“We’re coming together at a time when we both have strong balance sheets, and we think it will be good for our customers and our employees,” says Kevin Still, president and CEO of Co-Alliance. He will become the first president and CEO of the merged co-op. Scott Logue, head of Harvest Land, will become executive vice president of Co-Alliance Cooperative Inc.

Both boards officially approved the merger, and for business purposes, it will be retroactive to Sept. 1. Both cooperatives operate on a fiscal year that ends Aug. 31.

“We wanted to get off to an aggressive start, so we decided to merge right away and not wait,” Still says. He notes that the co-ops began talking to each other informally about eventually merging a decade ago.

“Our heritage goes back to the 1920s, when farmers who were growing potatoes formed a co-op to buy seed potatoes,” Logue says. “We no longer are in the potato business, but we offer our customers the products that they need for today and do it efficiently. This merger should make us even more efficient over time.”

Harvest Land grew over time through mergers with multiple county co-ops, Logue says. Co-Alliance’s five partners were also once individual co-ops. Many of them had formed from mergers of county co-ops as well.

The new company has four main product areas, Still notes. They are agronomy, energy, grain, and swine and animal nutrition. Before the merger, Co-Alliance operated multiple feed mills and raised hogs on contract through farmers who provide the facilities and care for the animals.

Harvest Land Co-op was formerly in the feed business but was no longer in that arena prior to the merger.

“This will open the opportunity for some of their customers to perhaps enter into that part of the business,” Still says. “We weathered the pandemic in 2020 without having to euthanize animals, and that is now, once again, a stable part of our business.”

The new merged co-op will have 1,000 employees and $1.3 billion in annual sales, Still says. Both new leaders pledge to continue a joint commitment to their employees and customers, who are their owners. Both also emphasize that safety will continue to be a key component in everything they do.

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