ALLIANCE – The 76th Annual Stockholders’ Meeting of Western Cooperative (WESTCO) was held Monday, Dec. 4, at the Alliance High School Performing Arts Center, with more than 200 people in attendance.
Along with celebrating 75 years, WESTCO had its fifth best year locally on record in 2017.
“Westco had a very good year, we returned $1.8 million to our membership,” said David Briggs, general manager of WESTCO. “This year we made $4.4 million net savings ending August 31, and in a very difficult ag economy we were able to achieve those goals by cutting $1.6 million in expenses from the prior year.”
In the Annual Board Report, Chairman Mark Buskirk informed the members, the Board had approved the Equity Redemption for all members age 70 and older.
Briggs recounted some of the events from the 2017, including the solar eclipse, where WESTCO allowed more than 130 planes to park on its property and view the eclipse.
For the 75th anniversary, WESTCO held several open houses at its convenience stores.
“In July we put in a new line at the New Alliance, (dry edible) bean facility in Alliance,” Briggs said. “It increased our capacity greatly, to help take care of the large bean crop we expected from our farmers.”
Severe weather in June and then hail later trimmed the bean harvest WESTCO expected, but the company is prepared for next year’s season.
Briggs also discussed some legislation, which will be coming out of the recently passed Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
Section 199, which has been in place since 2004, will be repealed in the tax package.
“So, that’s going to have a significant effect on a lot of cooperatives,” Briggs said. “Since we took advantage of DPAD, Domestic Production Activities Deduction, which is calculated with the grain sales we have with our farmers in this area.”
WESTCO had $2.5 million of DPAD this year and next year the deduction will be gone.
The Senate bill is proposing a deduction of around $1 million cooperatives or WESTCO could still use.
“So, there is still something there the Senate is working on to help encourage domestic production, that includes infrastructure upgrades,” he said.
Craig Henkel of Bayard and Dan Oligmueller of Alliance, were both re-elected to the Board of Directors for another term.
The evening concluded with a performance by the Alliance High School One-Act team, under the direction of Mary Theresa Green. The drama students also helped serve the meal, which was catered by West Side Events Center.