Agri-Partners members OK merger
By Mark Sherry
Standing in the new service shop and office/retail building constructed at Agri-Partners Co-op’s CTH E site are (from left) Maintenance Supervisor Wayne Knaus, Office Manager Rhonda Schoenick and Site Manager Tim Pagel. Parsons Brothers Construction of Stockbridge is finishing up its work on the structure.

Just like the farm operations they serve, agriculture cooperatives are getting bigger and more sophisticated all the time.

The next phase in the life of Agri-Partners Co-op started Friday, April 5 at special meetings held in Brillion and Reedsville. On that day, the voting members of Agri-Partners Co-op and Country Visions Co-op approved by mail ballot the merging of the two successful cooperatives. The vote was approved by 75 percent of the Agri-Partners Co-op membership and 64 percent of the Country Visions Co-op membership.

“The first goal will be to continue to provide a high level of service to the patrons,” said Steve Zutz, chief executive officer of Agri-Partners. Zutz will lead the newly merged cooperative which will be named at a later date.

“If you’re a farmer, we will be a primary provider of ag products,” Zutz added. “We have the equipment, facilities and people on staff taking those services to our customers.”

Positioning for future

He added, “Many customers will be serviced by the same employee or location as they have in the past. Some changes will take place as the efficiencies and rationalizations of the merge take effect over time. Many expensive investments in facilities and technology need to be made in the future. Your coop will be much better positioned to do so with this merge.”

Agri-Partners Co-op is no stranger to mergers. Chilton Cooperative and

Mark Sherry photo

Progressive Farmers merged to become Agri-Partners Cooperative in 2007. Then in 2011, AgriLand Cooperative merged with Agri-Partners.

Zutz said there was a time when there was 146 cooperatives in Wisconsin— now that figure is 35. Largely because of mergers, Zutz said he believes the day will come when about a dozen cooperatives serve the entire state. “It needs to

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