Sequester could cause billions of dollars in losses for meat producers

In recognition of National Cooperative Month, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that US ranch, agriculture and fishery cooperatives set records in sales, assets and income for 2012. Grain, farm supply and other agricultural commodity prices supported the strong performance. Agricultural and fishery co-ops recorded sales of $235 billion, surpassing the 2011 record by $18 billion.

"Agricultural cooperatives are a driving force in the nation's thriving farm economy. Because they are farmer-owned and operated businesses, the sales dollars and income generated are much more likely to be returned and spent in rural areas and communities," Vilsack says. "Ag cooperatives are also vital to the rural economy because they support 185,000 full- and part-time jobs, and are often the major employer in many rural towns."