WESTCO Producers Conference

Crystal R. Albers/Business Farmer Dr. Greg McKee, professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, speaks on the importance of cooperatives at the sixth-annual WESTCO Producers Conference last week.

Speakers offer wealth of information for farmers, ranchers

GERING, Neb. – Area farmers and ranchers heard updates on a range of topics, from new legislation to the future of beans and peas, at the sixth-annual WESTCO Producers Conference last week.

Several speakers hosted presentations at the Gering Civic Center on Thursday, including University of Nebraska-Lincoln Professor Dr. Greg McKee and New Alliance merchandiser Jon Sperl.

McKee reported on the importance of cooperatives to rural communities, such as creating benefits as a membership. To this point, he said the relatively new Section 199A deduction – which allows cooperatives to deduct 20 percent of their qualified business income – only exists because of cooperatives and offers financial benefits and the opportunity to provide farmers with more efficient service.

“You should be very excited about the health of Nebraska cooperatives,” McKee said.

Sperl spoke on the current and projected status of bean and pea markets, saying tariff issues will have to be resolved and have “cost millions and millions and millions of dollars in inefficiencies in the marketplace.

“The good news, around the world, though – pea protein consumption is increasing, pet food demand is growing … India’s needs cannot be met without North American supplies,” he said.

Opportunities also are opening up for bean sales in Mexico, Sperl said, due to frost, and Great Northern beans are the “bean of choice with European buyers, worldwide production is limited, and U.S. consumption is steadily increasing.”

If and when tariffs are removed, Sperl reminded producers of the urgency of making market decisions, explaining “shipping lanes are only so wide.

“We’ve got to remember what the (person who’s) buying our products is saying,” he said.

Western Cooperative Company (WESTCO) was organized in 1942 when 10 individuals put up 10 dollars each to form the equity used to purchase a gas station, according to WESTCO’s website. Visit the page for news, market overviews, U.S. Department of Agriculture reports, and more.

Crystal R. Albers/Business Farmer Dr. Greg McKee, professor at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, speaks on the importance of cooperatives at the sixth-annual WESTCO Producers Conference last week.


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