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Two Kansas cooperatives to merge in September

Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company will merge with Kanza Cooperative Association.

Roy Graber Headshot
Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company (FCEC) is merging with Kanza Cooperative Association. Shown is part of the FCEC branch in Varner, Kansas.
Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company (FCEC) is merging with Kanza Cooperative Association. Shown is part of the FCEC branch in Varner, Kansas.
Roy Graber

Two farmers’ cooperatives in south-central Kansas have announced plans to merge into one entity, effective September 1.

Members of the Farmers Cooperative Elevator Company (FCEC), headquartered in Garden Plain, Kansas, approved a vote by a 180-85 margin to merge with Kanza Cooperative Association (Kanza Coop), headquartered in Iuka, Kansas. The vote, approved on May 23, was the final step in the merger approval process. Boards from both entities had earlier signed a definitive agreement to merge.

“We had an excellent turnout from the membership and are very pleased that the majority approved the merger,” Dixie Brewster, FCEC president, said in a press release. “This vote has set our cooperative on the best track to maintaining high-quality service and products to our members, stay the employer of choice in our communities, and protect our members’ equity for generations to come.”

Once the merger is completed, the combined cooperative will retain the Kanza name, and the administrative headquarters will remain in Iuka. Alan Woodard will continue as the CEO of Kanza Coop, while Rusty Morehead, general manager of FCEC, will hold a key leadership position with the cooperative.

“We are excited for the synergy that is possible as we bring these two strong cooperatives together,” said Kanza Co-op Board Chair Alvin Neville. “We have so much in common from geography to service to strong financial positions. Together we will create a better cooperative for our members, employees and the communities we serve.”

Kanza Co-op, formerly known as Iuka Co-op, operated primarily in Pratt and Stafford counties, with locations in Iuka, Pratt, Byers, Coats, Dillwyn, Stafford, St. John, Antrim, Randle and Zenith. However, in 2016, Kanza grew eastward, having merged with the Andale Farmers Cooperative, with locations in the Sedgwick and Harvey County communities of Andale, Colwich, Sedgwick, Valley Center and Furley.

By merging with FCEC, Kanza Co-op will gain a presence in many of the communities between its westernmost and easternmost operations. FCEC has operations in Sedgwick, Kingman and Reno Counties, in the communities of Garden Plain, Cheney, Kingman, Belmont, Pretty Prairie, Varner, Norwich, Anness, Rago and Clonmel.

In a letter to FCEC members, Morehead wrote that even though the merger won’t be finalized until September, both organizations are beginning preparations for the transition, and that the two cooperatives have made concerning the current wheat harvest and the marketing of grain. The letter was dated June 4, 2024.

Morehead also stated that the cooperative would keep its members informed about “where we are at in the transition process.”

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