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Agribusinesses and Agricultural Cooperatives

Regional Agribusiness

Show Heartland Co-op CEO Tom Hauschel a photo of any of the 63 grain elevators his cooperative operates throughout the state of Iowa, and he can proudly name the location of every one of them without hesitation.

But the current apple of his eye is a massive new elevator in Fairfield, Iowa, which opened in October 2015 after four years of planning and 18 months of construction. The Fairfield facility can store an astonishing 4.4 million bushels of corn and soybeans, and can load a 112-car train full of grain in under 15 hours.

Based in West Des Moines, Iowa, Heartland has come a long way since three co-ops banded together under that name in 1987. Today, the business operates in 71 locations throughout the state. Heartland registered more than $800 million in sales in fiscal 2015 and handled nearly 150 million bushels of grain on behalf of approximately 5,800 farmer-members.

Fairfield isn’t Heartland’s only new elevator—at the same time it was being constructed, there were similar facilities going up in Randolph and Winterset, Iowa. “Heartland is investing record amounts in property, plant and equipment to meet the growing needs of our members,” Hauschel says.

Not surprisingly, Heartland’s continuous growth requires significant amounts of capital, much of which is supplied by CoBank. The bank provides Heartland with both term debt and seasonal lines of credit, with commitments totaling over $400 million at the end of 2015, in addition to cash management services and lease financing.

“CoBank understands our business, especially the volatility of the grain markets,” says Hauschel. “It’s great doing business with a financial partner who has such a long history with our industry.”

Amy Gales, executive vice president of CoBank’s Regional Agribusiness Banking Group, notes that Heartland is one of CoBank’s largest and most successful cooperative customers in the region. “It’s wonderful to see a co-op investing so much on behalf of its members and their success,” Gales says. “Our job is to make sure they have the financing they need when they need it—today and in the future.”

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