Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Lois E. Johnson
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Feed mill to close


November 16, 2017

Lois E. Johnson

Operations of the feed mill at the Moose Lake Cooperative Association will discontinue November 30. Bagged feed from another mill will be available at the cooperative.

The Moose Lake Co-op Feed Mill will be closed at the end of the month. The news broke last week when a letter informed members and patrons that the nearly 100-year-old institution was going to be closed.

"After 95 years of service, the feel mill will discontinue milling operations effective November 30th," wrote General Manager Joel Marcott in the letter. "After several years of incurring significant losses, and faced with the challenges of implementing animal food safety regulatory compliance, the mill is no longer a viable business. The market share that is available to support a continued investment in the mill continues to diminish. The cooperative will have to adapt its business model to reflect the current economic trends."

In an interview last week, Marcott said he began his duties at the cooperative on July 1 this year.

"These changes have been decided since I've been here," he said. "The financial condition of the cooperative was studied and these changes had to be made for the cooperative to remain viable going forward."

That isn't the only change. The building that once housed a tire warehouse and the co-op office is for sale. The building is located next to the Cenex service station on Arrowhead Lane. The co-op office is now located in the building behind Ske's Auto Body at 621 Industrial Road, by the agronomy office and equipment sales storage.

The feed store in International Falls has been sold to a woman who had managed it, said Marcott. "It was a good business model," he said. "She will do well there. Our focus is to provide local service. We felt that it was good for business to let that asset go."

The Country Store, the service station and the agronomy department, including the fertilizer plant, will remain open, said Marcott. The Askov facility will also remain open.

Customers will still be able to get feed at the store.

"We are partnering with Famo Feeds of Freeport, Minnesota, a family-owned company, to manufacture and supply us with a local, quality replacement feed," wrote Marcott in the letter. "Most of the products that you've been accustomed to picking up at your feed store will still be available. We will have pre-manufactured and bagged feed. The customers will notice an upgrade in the quality of products for a minimal cost difference."

"Famo Feeds has a high-tech plant that is certified and complies with current regulations," said Marcott in the interview. "Our plant was too old to be certified as such. With a nearly 100-year-old facility, it is hard to get it to where it has to be with regulatory compliance."

All of these changes will allow us to operate more efficiently," he added.

Marcott said the cooperative association in Moose Lake began on June 8, 1920, and the feed mill started in 1921.

The number of farmers has been declining for decades and that has also affected the services the cooperative has provided.

"There are not a lot of farmers still buying bulk feed anymore," said Marcott. "We had dozens of dairies that we served in the past. There are only seven dairies now, spread over several counties. We are restructuring for the new clientele that we serve. We are trying to be proactive so we can survive in this business."

In the letter Marcott invited customers to talk to him or any one of the cooperative association board members if there are any questions. The board members are Alan Overland, Roger Gustafson, Dan Davidson, Bob Moffet Jr. and Duane Coil.

Overland said he has been on the board for 38 years, when contacted for a telephone interview.

"There are a lot of changes taking place at this time," he said. "There will be more changes, but we just don't know what is going to happen just yet."

For more information, contact the Moose Lake Cooperative Association at (218) 485-4422.


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