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CHS crafts long-term direction.

More than 2,500 CHS Inc. member-owners gathered Dec. 3-4 in Minneapolis for the cooperative's annual meeting, where the theme was "Perspective" and speakers explored long-term directions for the nation's largest member-owned grain and energy business. CHS leaders said the producer-owned cooperative has a solid financial and strategic foundation from which to craft long-term success.

"We must look far, far ahead and ask ourselves what CHS needs to be and where we must go 10, and even 20, years from now," CHS President and CEO John Johnson said. "Our objective is to create long-term enterprise value for our owners, customers, employees and the others stakeholders in a rapidly evolving global marketplace."

CHS reported its fourth-best earnings in its nearly 80 years, with net income of $381.4 million for fiscal 2009. That compared with a record $803 million for fiscal 2008, a year during which the energy, grain, crop nutrients and food products the company handles reached record prices. Revenue for fiscal 2009 was $25.7 billion, down from $32.2 billion the previous year. During fiscal 2010, based on fiscal 2009 results, CHS will distribute an estimated $220 million in cash to its owners, its fourth-largest return.

Chief Financial Officer John Schmitz said the diversity of the CHS business portfolio allowed the company to achieve overall strong performance even as some of its operations grappled with the weak global economy in 2009. "The strong CHS financial foundation we've built in recent years has served us well and positions this company to take advantage of new opportunities," Schmitz said.

CHS Chairman Michael Toelle, a Browns Valley, Minn., farmer, told the delegates and guests that the economic climate, coupled with public scrutiny of corporate America, has heightened the CHS board's already strong commitment to its roles in oversight, governance, strategic planning and legislative outreach. "It is our responsibility to our owners to ensure that effective strategic planning keeps this company on a long-term path of success," Toelle said.

He added that the CHS board will continue to speak up on key issues, such as climate change legislation--including a proposed "cap and trade" carbon credit program--and encouraged other cooperative leaders to become involved.

2009 CHS operations highlights included:

* Strengthening grain origination presence in the Black Sea region through joint ventures in state-of-the-art port facilities at Odessa, Ukraine, and Novorossiysk, Russia.

* Opening a grain office in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

* Completing two refined fuels terminals at Missoula and Logan, Mont., to meet needs of customers in the region.

* Acquiring a major Mississippi River terminal, CHS Winona (Minn.) River and Rail, to boost crop nutrients distribution efficiencies in the region.

* Forming Wabash Valley Grain, LLC, with Superior Ag of Huntington, Ind., to create the CHS system's first origination point on the Ohio River.
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Title Annotation:Newsline: Co-op developments, coast to coast
Publication:Rural Cooperatives
Date:Jan 1, 2010
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