Group forming to oppose merger of co-ops

Farm Forum

While plans for a merger of Wheat Growers and North Central Farmers Elevator move ahead, a group of farmers is standing firm in its opposition to the move.

Mellette-area farmer Lannie Mielke said Tuesday afternoon that a group of close to 40 people met Monday at an Aberdeen hotel to discuss their displeasure with the proposed merger.

The group, Mielke said, represents a growing group of people — what he tentatively referred to as an “anti-merger alliance” — who do not want the unification of the two ag co-ops to be approved.

“We’ve gotten a lot of cold calls from people who are not necessarily for the merger and who want more information,” Mielke said. “The release of the name (Tuesday) is big news to the proponents, but it is really wrong. They have spent thousands of our patrons’ money for something that has not been voted on yet.”

Mielke said the group plans to start a Facebook page soon where those against the merger can be updated on “what’s happening on the flip side from a farmer’s perspective.”

A member of both co-ops, Mielke said that he is confident that at least the North Central vote for unification would not pass if it were held this week. Members of both co-ops would need a simple majority of yes votes for the merger to become reality.

“There are certain areas where farmers need them both,” Mielke said. “We’re not saying we’re speaking for everyone, but there are a lot of people who think that we’re not being told the entire story. We’re not against the co-ops or anything. We just want them both.”

Follow @bryan_horwathon Twitter.