Message from the Board
Apr 18, 2022
One of the crucial (and unique) aspects of a cooperative is the fact that they are governed by a board of customers – in our case, farmers. While this can be an advantage for the cooperative, the actual role of the board of directors is often a source of confusion for members, employees, and sometimes even the board members themselves.
Our board of directors is made up of 15 directors - three from each of our four districts and three at large - and two appointed, non-voting advisory directors. A director’s term lasts three years, and while there are no term limits, the age limit is 70.
The primary functions of the board are its fiduciary responsibilities. That means they are obligated to stay objective, manage the company well, and do it in a way that serves the greater good of the members and the company, rather than their own individual interests. Tactically speaking, some of the specific duties include hiring, managing, and (if needed) removing the CEO (or General Manager) of the organization, examining monthly financials, engaging an auditor, and approving the year-end audit, approving a yearly budget, reviewing and approving a capital expenditure budget, managing member equity and overseeing the governance, bylaws, and articles of incorporation. Most of these duties are executed by way of a monthly board meeting.
In addition to monthly board meetings, we also devote time each year for strategic planning. During this time the board and management team discuss both long- and short-term goals for our cooperative. With the fast-paced changes occurring in agriculture, it has been harder to plan too far into the future and has made yearly adjustments to short-term goals the new norm. However, our focus will always be how to use our limited resources to best serve our members and employees in the future.
As you can see, the actual responsibilities of the board are much more strategic in nature than most people think. Monthly meetings are not a time to work on operational issues, what brand of pickup the co-op should buy, or the issues facing a particular employee. Those decisions are left to the management team that is hired by the CEO who is hired by the board.
Finally, I would like to emphasize the value of being local and making decisions locally. The word “local” evokes some debate as the cooperative accomplishes necessary growth to have the ability to serve its members well into the future. Local used to mean, “It’s in my town”. As that became impossible to accomplish everywhere (and as we have grown), local is more regional in nature. What has not changed is the value of decisions being made closer to the farm than most companies do. There is a tremendous value to 15 farmers from our market making decisions about how to operate and re-invest in our market – not in California, or Illinois, or Minneapolis. When profit is generated here, we re-invest those into patronage for our members, or facilities, people, and service right here in North and South Dakota. That is local!
As I close, I want to thank you for your commitment to Agtegra and for your business. Our market share growth shows that more and more farmers are doing business here and more are doing a larger percentage of their business at Agtegra. Thanks for working with us as we work to create a company that will last for many generations to come!