ABERDEEN, S.D. (AP) — The boards of two agriculture co-ops in the Dakotas have decided to hold a second vote among their members about merging.
A narrow majority of members from North Central Farmers Elevator voted in 2015 against merging with Wheat Growers, the Aberdeen American News reported.
Merger discussions resurfaced a couple weeks ago when leaders from both groups wanted to gather member feedback on the idea amid a changing agricultural environment. The feedback collection ended Tuesday.
“Members have told us that unification will help us be better able to compete at a time when we see lots of competitor growth in the region,” said Rick Osterday, board president of the North Central Farmers Elevator. “This will help keep our businesses strong, members’ equity secure and local control intact.”
Wheat Growers Board President Hal Clemensen said the benefits of a merger are timely given aggressive agricultural competition and continued market uncertainty.
In 2015, Wheat Growers members approved the merger, but more than 50 percent of North Central members voted no. That same process of needing member approval from both co-ops will be applied again this year.
Member information meetings will be held beginning Aug. 21. Ballots will be mailed to members a week later, and voting on the merger will end Sept. 28.
Both co-ops are based in South Dakota. North Central has about 2,500 members, while the Wheat Growers has 5,400 members in eastern North Dakota and South Dakota.