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January 26, 2004

Agri-Mark Farmers To Receive $11.4 Million

Cooperative returns record profits to its Northeast farm family members

Methuen, Mass. -- Agri-Mark dairy farmer-owners will share in a record $11.4 million profit for the company's fiscal year ended November 30, 2003, up from the $6.8 million profit the cooperative recorded last year and the previous record of $7.8 million the cooperative earned in 1998. For a Northeast dairy farmer milking 100 cows, that means more than $7,500 in extra added value for their milk. That money is welcome on the farm, given the fact that during the past 12 months farm milk prices have been the lowest in more than 25 years. Agri-Mark's profit allocation to dairy farmers will be $.44 per hundredweight for all of the milk each farm family shipped to the cooperative during the 2003 fiscal year. Checks will be mailed shortly to Agri-Mark farmers for the cash portion of their allocated share. Members owners will receive a full report on the year's operations at their annual meeting in Burlington, Vt., in April. Officials at Agri-Mark say the continued strength of the cooperative's Cabot branded business and the contributions made by the company's new McCadam brand of New York dairy products helped the co-op achieve record profits and make the outlook for 2004 very positive. "The commitment our farmers have made over the years to invest in their own processing facilities has certainly been paying off," says Carl Peterson, a dairy farmer from Delanson, N.Y., who was recently elected to his 13th term as the cooperative's Chairman of the Board of Directors. "I"m particularly proud that our Cabot and McCadam brands of dairy products continue to expand both regionally and nationwide and our diversified dairy business is generating a good return for our farmers." Dairy farmer John Malcolm of Pawlet, Vt., says he is pleased with his cooperative's progress. "Every time a consumer buys Cabot or McCadam dairy products, they are helping their farm neighbors," says Malcolm, who appears in some of Cabot's marketing campaigns. "Our farmers produce exceptional quality milk and our employees take pride in the products we produce. That's a winning combination." Paul P. Johnston, Agri-Mark President and CEO, says he is pleased with the continued progress of Agri-Mark in the past several years and looks forward to more good years ahead. "Our business has continued to grow in both volume and profitability such that, in addition to providing our farm families with strong markets for their milk, we are now generating solid year-end profits as well," says Johnston. "Agri-Mark paid out more than $9.0 million in milk quality and other premiums to our members last year. In total, we generated more than $20 million for our members in profits and over-order premiums. That's a record as well." Chairman Peterson says the cooperative is investing in Northeast dairy manufacturing plants and dairy brands and thus is increasingly being recognized by the dairy community and others as the region's leader in attempting to keep the Northeast dairy economy strong. The investment that Agri-Mark farmers made in their new McCadam business generated a return on that investment right from the start, he says. "As dairy farmers we are suppliers of a wholesome, nutritious product, but we are at the beginning of a marketing chain that includes both dairy processors and retailers that are large and powerful." says Peterson. "We have to market a greater percentage of our own high quality dairy products directly to the consumer, so we can capture a larger portion of the dollars they spend on those products." Peterson also added that Agri-Mark farmer-owners enjoyed a 27% return on the equity monies that they invested in their cooperative the past year. "We"re looking for other farm families to join us and share in our success," says Peterson. "We all need to work closer together than ever before if we are to generate the dollars we all need to not only stay in business, but to prosper. Northeast farm families need to be paid more for all of their hard work. That's what Agri-Mark is all about." - 30 - Agri-Mark, with approximately $600 million in 2003 sales, markets more than 300 million gallons of farm fresh milk each year for 1,400 dairy farm families in New England and New York. The cooperative has been marketing milk for dairy farmers since 1916, and also represents their legislative interests in the Northeast and in Washington, D.C. In addition to its manufacture and sale of branded cheddar cheese and other dairy products, Agri-Mark has invested in operations to manufacture and market valuable whey proteins. The co-op also sells fluid milk from its farmers to the region's largest dairy processors. For more information about Agri-Mark, visit our web site at www.agrimark.net.


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