Cooperative spirit

A message from CHS Board Chair Dan Schurr

 A farmer stands at the edge of a barn looking out onto his fields. 

Dan Schurr joined the CHS Board of Directors in 2006 and serves as chair of the CHS Board and the board’s Executive Committee. He raises corn and soybeans near LeClaire, Iowa, and operates a commercial trucking business.

Mar 10, 2022

Power is a concept we apply every day: We want powerful equipment. We celebrate athletes’ power. We see the results of nature’s power. Power is important to the cooperative system, too: Cooperatives were created to take advantage of power in numbers. 

While power can mean many things, to empower means to give power. “Empowered” was the theme for the recent CHS annual meeting, reminding us that being part of the cooperative system gives us power to think bigger, act more decisively and plan for the future, knowing we are empowered to succeed.  

A Stronger CHS 

Your CHS Board has a singular focus: Empowering our owners and our customers. Over the past few years, the Board has been on a journey, working with CHS management to make this company stronger by: 

  • Building a strong foundation with controls and guidelines to manage risk and resources effectively 
  • Rethinking how we do business, improving efficiency and leveraging the power of the enterprise to drive growth 
  • Envisioning a better customer experience fueled by data and technology 

Managing Equity 

The Board is committed to managing cash flow and living within our means, while maintaining and building a strong balance sheet to provide flexibility for growth. 

At the 2020 annual meeting, we announced $33 million in equity redemptions and $30 million in cash patronage to be distributed in fiscal 2021, promising to increase that amount if performance allowed. We kept that promise and subsequently announced an additional $50 million in planned fiscal 2021 equity redemptions. 

In fiscal 2022, we intend to return $50 million in cash patronage and $100 million in equity redemptions. 

Effective equity management and a strong and valuable patronage program is vital to the success of CHS and our owners. To better understand the diverse views of CHS owners, we will be reaching out this year with our proposals and to gather your feedback. We will make the process as open as possible, using the power of your insights to set the best equity management strategies for CHS and its owners. 

Look to the Future

As a board, we have challenged ourselves to be more visionary, gain a broader perspective and take a fresh look at what the cooperative system can do. We ask hard questions and seek inclusive input that helps us see the big picture, considering the forces that will affect our businesses next year and in 20 years.

The CHS of today is not the CHS we will need in the future. CHS must adapt to the changing world. That will require deeper relationships with our owners, listening to how CHS can help and meeting your needs by leveraging the global scale of CHS.

We need to think about the connection between CHS and owners as a trusted relationship — one that isn’t just expected but earned.

Imagine the power of merging data from farmers and member cooperatives on stored grain and using it to plan delivery and load ships out of the ports at Kalama, Superior and Myrtle Grove. Or collecting data on crop nutrient needs and space in sheds across the system, then managing the trucks, trains, barges and ships to deliver fertilizer from CF Nitrogen or global suppliers. Or using automated fuel delivery to get diesel to producers as they need it. Think of the value owners would gain from fully leveraging the power of CHS and our global connections.

These opportunities give me tremendous optimism. We have the foundation. We have the structure. Now we must harness our shared strength to make this cooperative system better.

Creating connections to empower agriculture — that’s how we define power.


Check out the full Winter 2022 issue of C magazine with this article and more.