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Explosion, weather challenge AP in 2009

All Points still sees second-best year ever.

All Points Cooperative has experienced volatile input prices, a challenging harvest in addition to the rebuilding of a damaged elevator.

Still, at the end of the 2009, the company showed assets of more than $63 million—compared to $61 million two years ago—for the second best year ever for the cooperative.

All Points stockholders listened to highlights of the financial report Friday at their annual meeting at Monsanto Water Utilization Learning Center in Gothenburg.

The cooperative had a banner year in 2008 with $76 million in assets which president and CEO Ed Foster has described as a once-in-a-lifetime event with a bumper crop and high prices for grain and fertilizer and fuel.

In addition to buying grain, All Points buys and sells fertilizer and fuel.

Fast forward to 2009 when fluctuating fuel and fertilizer prices and reconstruction of the Gothenburg elevator damaged in a Nov. 20, 2008, explosion in Gothenburg have challenged the cooperative, Foster said.

The explosion devastated the cooperative’s grain storing, handling and loading operations.

By the end of March, he said company officials hope reconstruction will be finished.

Foster said Mother Nature tested farmers, All Point employees and workers rebuilding the elevator.

Harvest was hampered by 30 inches of snow in October.

As a result, All Points has had to dry more wet corn than Foster ever remembers and work around the millwrights who are rebuilding the elevator.

“Unless it was dried on the farm, we had to dry every bushel,” he said, noting that grain the elevator is still receiving has 18% or more moisture.

Despite those difficulties, the cooperative installed new technology, established inventory facilities such as seed warehouses in Westerville and Callaway and bought fertilizer trucks and spray machines.

Yearly sales decreased from $187,961,997 to $150,230,236.

Net earnings before income taxes rose from $12.1 million in 2008 to $13.7 million in 2009.

In patronage, stockholders received $3.8 million last year compared to $8.1 million in 2008 and $2.7 million in 2007.

What that means is that earnings All Points has at the end of the year—divided into petroleum, fertilizer and grain—are returned in patronage, both and cash and equity, to buyers of their goods.

Patrons are people who do business with the cooperative.

Foster said the cooperative’s board of directors voted to increase the cash patron percentage from 35% to 50% because of the cooperative’s cash position at year’s end.

Both Foster and board chairman Don Anthony of Lexington talked about the dedicated employees at All Points and its board of directors.

Foster said more than $5.5 million was paid to employees last year who in turn live, work and spend money in their communities.

Anthony said the cooperative was hit harder financially in 2009 than 2008 and with the elevator explosion “we’ll never know how much business we lost.”

In addition, he said commodity prices dropped 50% to 60%.

Challenges in 2010, Anthony said, include a sales tax on energy used after Jan. 1 which could raise electricity rates as harvest and corn drying continues.

Cap-and-trade legislation could also have a tremendous effect on the regional cooperative and agricultural producers, he said.

The proposed legislation is a method for regulating and reducing the amount of pollution emitted into the atmosphere.

In the coming year, Foster said Monday that pre-booked fertilizer sales appear normal.

All Points ended its fiscal year on Sept. 30, 2009.

Editor’s note: A behind-the-scenes look at espionage from former chief of CIA counterintelligence James Olson will appear in the Jan. 20 issue of The Times. Olson spoke at the All Points Cooperative annual meeting on Jan. 8 in Gothenburg.

ebarrett@gothenburgtimes.com308-537-3636

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