August 22, 2019

It’s Great to Be Back: Greenville Location Embraces Client-First Mindset

As the Greenville location at MaxYield Cooperative prepared for its third harvest, it hasn’t just transitioned from a seasonal location to a full-time location. Moving from a corporate business structure to a cooperative system has also redefined Greenville.

“I like MaxYield’s focus on being a solutions provider for our clients,” said Kent Engel, Greenville grain superintendent. “It’s great to be back in the cooperative system.”

Greenville plays an important role in MaxYield’s west territory. Located about 10 miles south of Spencer, MaxYield Cooperative is the biggest economic engine in this town of approximately 60-plus residents.

Greenville offers 1.5 million bushels of grain storage, including two 350,000-bushel bins and one 710,000-bushel bin that were built in recent years. Providing fast, efficient grain handling services is one of the hallmarks of Greenville.

It’s a whole different mindset than when the location was part of the corporate structure before that. “Corporate has a mission to provide maximum return to the shareholders,” Engel said. “That’s a much different philosophy than a cooperative, where the members are the owners.”

Multiple transitions created challenges

Greenville’s history in the grain business dates back generations. The business was privately-owned grain elevator for decades. In the 1970s, Greenville joined with grain facilities in Langdon and Spencer before all three were bought by Farmers Co-op in Everly, which later included Hartley, Royal and Milford.

The cooperative merged with Superior in the 2000s to become Great Lakes Cooperative. Within a few years, Green Plains bought the cooperative and its locations.

“Ethanol was coming on board around that time,” Engel said. “Management said this might be a case where if we can’t beat them, we should join them and provide corn for the ethanol plant in Superior.”

The Greenville location was part of Green Plains for about four years. “We had a lot of transition in a short amount of time,” Engel said.

More change occurred when Greenville and other locations in Green Plains were sold to The Andersons, LLC in Ohio. “The Andersons had facilities in Nebraska and wanted to fill in the gaps from Nebraska to Ohio,” said Engel, who noted that Greenville was part of The Andersons for four years before MaxYield purchased The Andersons’ locations in April 2016.

All these transitions cost the Greenville location some clients through the years. “The different changes in ownership every few years made it tough,” Engel said. “If a client leaves, you have to earn that trust back and rebuild that relationship again.”

Greenville evolves with the times

Engel believes the cooperative system offers one of the best ways to grow these relationships, since the business exists to serve the farmers. His cooperative roots run deep, back to the years he was growing up in Paullina.

“My father, Robert, managed the co-op at Paullina for more than 30 years,” said Engel, who has worked in the cooperative system since 1977. “I grew up around the elevator. To me, that was like growing up on the farm.”

Engel has seen a lot of changes in agriculture during his career, including the size of the farms. “When I was growing up, a quarter section was a pretty big farm,” he noted.

As the farms have changed, so have the grain elevators that serve them. Greenville, which used to be served by the Milwaukee railroad, used to have a single grain bin east of the office, along with three flat storage areas for grain. Grain could be shipped by rail until the tracks were removed around 1975-76.

In the 2000s, Greenville received a new 15,000-bushel-per-hour grain leg. “The old grain was so slow it was pathetic,” Engel said. “Between the new grain leg and the new bins we’ve added, it has all made a huge difference.”

Along with fast service, MaxYield offers a Keytrol fuel station at Greenville. Members of the local coffee crowd stop by the office each morning for hot coffee and fresh popcorn. Some drop by again in the afternoon.

Even the coffee crowd has changed through the years in Greenville. “It used to be a card playing group who exchanged small amounts of money,” said Engel, who noted that the crowd was biggest in the winter. “There might be 12 to 14 people in here, which made it tough to do business, since you had no privacy.”

There used to be quite a few smokers among the coffee crowd. “In the dead of the winter, you’d have to open the windows to try to clear the smoke out of the office,” Engel said.

All that changed in 2008, when Iowa lawmakers passed the Smokefree Air Act, which prohibits smoking in enclosed areas within places of employment. “That was kind of hard on the coffee crowd,” said Engel, who enjoys visiting with the regulars who continue to stop by the Greenville office.

Engel appreciates the chance to serve local farmers. “Our clients are forward thinkers who adapt to change and are willing to try new things. They are good people to be working for.”




MaxYield Cooperative Announces Fiscal 2018 Results

WEST BEND, IA, – MaxYield Cooperative® recently announced its fiscal results, for the year ending July 31, 2018. The board of directors for MaxYield reviewed and approved the financial audit at their board meeting, held August 23.

“The recently completed year-end showed solid earnings and financial results in a continued challenging agricultural environment,” stated MaxYield CEO Keith Heim. “We had a strong fall 2017 season and even with a very difficult spring, in which some crop inputs and nutrients were simply not applied, seed, crop nutrient and crop protection margins in total were higher than the previous fiscal year.”

Heim added that other noteworthy accomplishments included strong grain drying revenues, increased propane gallons, solid energy margins, plus increased transportation, SciMax Solutions and feed revenues. “Our emphasis on expense control, plus improved grain margins in 2018 also helped us achieve strong fiscal results,” he added.

MaxYield Cooperative’s Local Savings from Operations for the 2017-2018 fiscal year were $1,593,687, and pre-tax Total Savings for the cooperative totaled nearly $4.9 million.

Heim noted that the cooperative continues to build its balance sheet. “This is arguably the strongest balance sheet in our cooperative’s history. Term debt was reduced by $4.4 million, member’s equity increased and we added $3.0 million to working capital in 2018. MaxYield also increased retained savings, which now totals nearly $52 million. In 1997, retained savings were ($122,242), so you can see we continue to make significant progress in strengthening the financial position of MaxYield. We have been and will continue to focus on enhancing revenue and decreasing expenses in this tight economic environment,” he added.

The cooperative’s annual meeting is December 10, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. at the Britt Community Center, located in Britt, IA.

About MaxYield Cooperative

MaxYield Cooperative is a member-owned, diversified agricultural cooperative founded in 1915 and is headquartered in West Bend, IA. The cooperative has 24 locations and three Cenex convenience stores in Iowa. MaxYield also provides grain origination and accounting services for two Iowa feed mills. For more information, visit MaxYield online at and

Ben Buie Named MaxYield Grain Team Leader

Ben Buie has been named to the position of Grain Team Leader for MaxYield Cooperative. The appointment was announced August 10 by Keith Heim, CEO for MaxYield Cooperative and will be effective December 31, 2018.

Buie will assume the position currently held by Harry Bormann, who recently announced his intention to retire from the company in December. Bormann has been with the cooperative since 1996.

Buie will be responsible for providing leadership and strategic direction for MaxYield’s grain department and team. He will also be responsible for grain merchandising, risk management, procurement, grain inventory, plus the education and development of the grain team.

Bormann and Buie will work together over the next several months to ensure a smooth transition of responsibilities. Buie will begin his duties at MaxYield mid-September, 2018.

“Ben comes to MaxYield with considerable experience in grain origination and merchandising numerous commodities, including corn and soybeans, across a diverse geographical area,” said Heim. “He also brings to MaxYield experience in grain operations and has provided leadership in a variety of grain facility upgrade projects throughout his career.”

Prior to joining MaxYield, Buie served as Grain Division Manager for ECI Cooperative, based in Cedar Falls, IA. His extensive grain industry career has included positions with J. D. Heiskell & Co. in Amarillo, TX, and Garvey Processing, Inc. in Portales, NM and St. Charles, IL.

He earned his Economics degree at the University of Illinois and his Masters of Business Administration at Eastern New Mexico University.

About MaxYield

MaxYield Cooperative is a member-owned, diversified agricultural cooperative founded in 1915 and is headquartered in West Bend, IA. The cooperative has 24 locations and 3 Cenex convenience stores in Iowa. MaxYield also provides grain origination and accounting services for two Iowa feed mills. For more information, visit MaxYield online at and

A Floor and Maybe More: Protect Profit Potential with Minimum Price Contracts

In times like this, wouldn’t it be great to have price protection against the downside of weather markets and still be able to capture upside potential? It’s not only possible, but also quite simple with a minimum price contract.

“We’ve seen a lot of interest in minimum price contracts,” said Karl Setzer, risk management team leader for MaxYield Cooperative. “The potential for this contract to work is much greater when the market isn’t near seasonal or historical highs.” A minimum price contract involves a simple, two-step process, including:

  1. Cash sale
  2. Re-ownership of the grain in the deferred months, with a set price floor

While some risk management tools still have downside risk, that’s not the case with the minimum price contract. Along with price protection, you retain the opportunity to take advantage of market rallies.

For example, on minimum price contract bushels that MaxYield was pricing in mid-October, the market was trading at $3.88 for September 2018. “Since we put the re-ownership out into future months, rather than the spot market, you have the chance to participate in a weather market in the next growing season,” Setzer said.

Think of it like insurance

Think of a minimum price contract like car insurance and homeowners insurance. When you buy these risk management tools, you hope that you never have to collect on them. If you do suffer a loss, however, the premium seems like a small price to pay for the coverage.

This is similar to a minimum price contract, which offers you a more affordable way to retain ownership, protect against losses, capture future weather rallies and avoid grain storage costs.

“Storage could easily cost you twice as much as the fee for the minimum price contract,” Setzer said. “This contract almost sounds too good to be true, but it’s the real deal.”

After you pay the fee for this contract, there are no hidden costs or additional fees. “It’s not like buying a car and having to pay more money for rust protection,” Setzer said. “With a minimum price contract, everything is spelled out right up front.”

In addition, you only have to handle the grain once with a minimum price contract. Don’t want to mess with hauling grain to the elevator? Sign up for MaxYield’s convenient, on-farm grain pickup service and check one more thing off your to-do list.

Effective risk management doesn’t have to be fancy

Along with minimum price contracts, MaxYield offers a variety of risk management programs and tailors them to your specific situation.

“We don’t believe in one-size-fits-all, cookie cutter solutions, but we do believe effective risk management doesn’t have to be complex,” said Setzer, who added that no MaxYield grain team members work on commission. “Think of risk management like an old farm truck. It doesn’t have to be fancy to work for you.”

Don’t overlook one of the biggest benefits of the K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid) philosophy of risk management, Setzer said. “The simpler your system is, the more likely you are to follow it.”

Let’s talk

Want to learn more about minimum price contracts or other risk management tools from MaxYield? Interested in on-farm grain pickup? Contact your nearest MaxYield location for details.

Developing Strategies & Utilizing Tools: Building a Crop Marketing Plan

Download: Building a Crop Marketing Plan Flyer

There’s an old adage that states, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” Do you plan to fail in marketing your old and new crop corn and soybeans? If the answer is “no” then what is your plan? Could you write it down and share it with your business partner and primary ag lender?

Join Steve Johnson, farm management specialist for an evening of fun and educational learning filled with strategies and tools to prepare you to market old and new crop bushels.

February 21, 2018

6 p.m. Meal
7:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m. Steve Johnson

The Shores
14 N. Lawler St.
Emmetsburg, IA

Cost is $30 per person or $45 per couple

To register, call 712-852-2865 or

Women in Ag: Annie’s Project Starts Soon!

Annie’s Project: Farm Business Management

Download: Annie’s Project Flyer

A six-session course created to guide women in making good decisions for their farm businesses.

Classes starting Tuesday, February 13, 2018 and continuing February 20, 27 and March 6, 13, 20.

11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., meal at noon

Farm Credit Services of America
3675 450th Ave.
Emmetsburg, IA

Annie’s Project is the agricultural business education program that empowers farm and ranch women who want to be more knowledgeable about their agricultural enterprises. Women learn best with and from other women, and Annie’s Project takes advantage of that by creating a comfortable and supportive learning environment focused on the best farm business management practices.

Course participants will learn effective strategies to make good decisions in five key management areas including financial, human resources, legal, marketing and production topics.

For more information, head to

Master Now to Market Later

Join Hancock and Winnebago County Extension and Outreach, along with guest speaker Angie Setzer, to talk about marketing grain! Lean marketing strategies, principles, and risk management as part of an operation full marketing plan. At the end of the four-week course, you will walk away with your own personalized grain marketing strategy. This is also a great opportunity to network with other farmers in ag business.

4 Sessions

Cost:      $40.00 singles
$60.00 couples

February 6
February 13
February 20
February 27


6:00 p.m.
Waldorf University Ballroom in Salverson Hall
Forest City, IA

Registration Deadline: January 26

Call your County Extension Office:
Hancock County: 641-923-2856
Winnebago County: 641-584-2261

Corn is King in Kossuth County

By Karl Setzer, Risk Management Team Leader

There is an old adage in the market that “corn is king,” and nothing could be more true for Kossuth County. Corn production in Kossuth County has been on a steady incline for the past several years, and shows no signs of slowing down.

In 1997, farmers in Kossuth County seeded 299,000 acres of corn. The average yield that year was 147.2 bushels per acre for a country production figure of 44 million bushels. Within twenty years this yield grew considerably. By 2016 the average county yield had grown to 204.7 bushels on 334,000 acres according to Farm Service Agency and U.S.D.A. data. This gave the country a production figure of 68.4 million bushels of corn.

The real noticeable increase in corn yield and production came in the early 2000’s. In the year 2001 the county corn yield was 138 bushels for an average. Just a year later this average jumped to 171 bushels per acre. Even in the drought year of 2012 the country yield only decreased to 164.6 bushels as most soils in the country yield better when dry rather than having excess moisture to contend with.

There are several reasons for the steady growth in corn yield. The main one is simple improvements to farming practices as a whole. Today’s farmers are planting much higher quality genetics than just a few years ago. Many of these are able to withstand insect pressure as well as adverse weather. This was proven last year when the corn crop seemed resilient to drought conditions. We have also seen practices such as variable rate fertilizer applications and variable rate seeding, which plant higher populations on parts of fields where yields tend to be higher.

While we have witnessed increases to corn yields and production in the county, more is needed. This is from the fact that demand has grown at a greater pace than production has, causing the country to import corn from other areas. If one would draw a circle with a fifty-mile radius of Algona, corn consumption is nearly 1 million bushels per day. This means country corn production is only a little over a two-month supply.

The big push for corn in the country came in the 1990’s with the expansion of hog production. This was most noticed in the southern half of the country. Within ten years the ethanol boom started, and created a large demand base in the northern half of the country. Since then corn demand has steadily increased in counties surrounding Kossuth, creating even more competition for corn stocks. As a result, corn values in the regions have went from being some of the poorest in the nation to the strongest in just a few short years. This demand has also helped isolate our market from many of the factors that used to impact prices when corn exports were more common.

For more information, you may contact Karl Setzer at 1-800-383-0003, or e-mail at The opinions and views expressed in this commentary are solely those of Karl Setzer. Data used in writing this commentary obtained from various sources believed to be accurate. This commentary is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended for developing specific commodity trading strategies. Any and all risk involved with commodity trading should be determined before establishing a futures position.



2017 Grain Market Year in Review

By Karl Setzer, Risk Management Team Leader

To say the calendar year 2017 was full of unexpected turns in the markets may be the greatest understatement ever.

The years started out with all eyes on the financial markets to see what would happening following the election and placement of the new administration. Financial markets reacted approvingly, which may have been more of a coincidence than anything, but it still brought fresh investors to the marketplace. This sudden increase in the financial market actually hindered commodity trade as less interest was shown on those contracts. This was apparent all year, as any dip in the financials lent support to commodities.

The first story worth watching of the year was the South American harvest. Production numbers out of South America came in better than expected. This was credited to a near perfect growing season and improved farming practices. Farmers in South America have upped their use of inputs, mainly fertilizer, which has also been a great benefit for production.

The crop that received the most attention in South America was the Brazilian Safrinha crop. This is the winter crop that is grown in Brazil, and in many cases, is where Brazil’s exports come from. Given the record yields this crop produced, the United States was faced with prolonged export competition all year.

Chinese trade developments also were quick to impact the U.S. market last year. This started with China banning imports of distiller grains from the United States over the possibility of unapproved GMO content in them. While this may have been part of the reason China wanted to back away from U.S. DDGs, elevated domestic ethanol production was likely more of a factor. Chinese officials wanted to use their own DDGs rather than make imports, and the decision to ban them from the U.S. was an easy remedy to the situation.

Global trade on a whole was a factor for the market all year, primarily what changes were expected to take place to world trade agreements. The one that received the most attention was NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. There are thoughts that the United States will withdraw from this agreement and it will severely limit our exports. This is not out of the question, as Mexico and Canada are two of the top three trade partners the United States has.

The greatest surprise for the market in the past year came from the U.S. production season. Spring planting started out cool and wet in many regions of the Corn Belt. In fact, some regions of the Eastern Corn Belt had to reseed their crops two and three times due to excessive rainfall. This immediately generated talk of low yields and loss production.

Once the crops were in the ground, the weather talk only intensified. The focus shifted to the Upper Plains where severe drought was reported. This was focused on the Dakotas where yield loss of up to 50% was predicted.

As the growing season progressed, some analysts started to change their opinion on the crops. Field reports started to indicate that the crops were actually developing nicely, especially in fringe regions. This was verified by crop tours that found better stands than nearly all of trade was expecting. As a result, some analysts started to raise their yield expectations, and generated some disbelief in the market.

This uncertainty increased right up to the start of the harvest season. Initial yield reports came in much better than expected, with several cases of the Deep South reporting record production. The initial reaction to this was “just wait until harvest moves north, those yields will decline.” The reality is that they did not drop off, especially on corn. Many regions of the Corn Belt reported corn yields that were very close to last year’s, if not larger. As harvest wound down it was apparent that trade greatly underestimated the size of this year’s crop, on both corn and soybeans.

One positive side of these high yields is that with the market already being depressed, production numbers did not pressure values. In fact, in some cases, the high yields actually generated more income than what farmers were receiving a year ago on a per acre revenue case.

Questions are now being asked on what 2018 will bring the markets. One thing that will be likely is a slow reaction to adverse weather given this year’s yields. Any changes to trade policies and the financial markets will also be key to how the commodity market acts. At this point, it is not out of the question that 2018 could bring us a market very similar to 2017; sideways and lethargic activity all year.

Karl Setzer is a Commodity Trading Advisor/Market Analyst at MaxYield Cooperative®. His syndicated commentary and market analysis is available daily on radio, in newsprint and on the Internet at The opinions and views in this commentary are solely those of Karl Setzer. Data used for this commentary obtained from various sources believed to be accurate. This commentary is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended for developing specific commodity trading strategies. Any and all risk involved with commodity trading should be determined before establishing a futures position.

Insight Grain Marketing Program Kick-Off

MaxYield Cooperative is again offering the Insight managed grain marketing program to our clients. Insight allows you to sign up for one of four professional marketing firms (AgriVisor, Pro Farmer, Doane, or Roach) and let them market a portion your bushels for you!!

We are holding informational meetings for you to learn more and ask questions, or you may contact a MaxYield Cooperative Grain Solution Specialist for more details.

The informational meetings will be held:

Thursday, November 30th at 9:00 AM at the Clay County Regional Events Center, located on the fairgrounds in Spencer

Thursday, November 30th at 1:30 PM at MaxYield’s Klemme location office

Sign up for the Insight program is through December 29th, 2017. Get signed up today to take part in this beneficial grain marketing program!