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Farmland Industries Inc.

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Today, when we hear the slogans "better farming, better food," or "proud to

be farmer owned" one company comes to mind, Farmland Industries. We may

think of this of this fortune 500 company as a leading agricultural

powerhouse, which it is, however, it was not always that way.


Farmland Industries Inc. was founded by Howard A. Cowden, who was born and

raised in Southwestern Missouri. Cowden started young in the cooperative

business by working for the Missouri Farmers Association (MFA). However; in

October of 1927, he had resigned from the position of secretary for the MFA

and started out on his own. Immediately following, Cowden received the MFA

oil contract that previously had been held with Standard Oil Company, and

Cowden was now in the wholesale oil business. On January 27, 1928, Cowden

Oil Company was founded. This business was moved to Kansas City, Missouri

in late 1928.

In January of 1929, Cowden Oil Company was dissolved and Union Oil Company

(Cooperative) was formed. It was clear that Cowden had planned to do more

than just buy and sell oil to local cooperatives. A board of directors was

created to run the company, yet Cowden retained full control over the

company that he had created. Cowden started recruiting smaller companies to

join their cooperative by signing contracts to sell certain amounts of

Union’s products. In 1929, Union Oil Company had purchased its first land.

"The Two Car Garage," as it is referred to, was the building that they had

purchase to become their new home.

In 1935, Union Oil Company changed its name to Consumers Cooperative

Association (CCA). CO-OP was decided to be its official logo. In October

of 1956, CCA moved to their new home on North Oak Trafficway, in Kansas

City, and the company was ready for major business. In June of 1961, Howard

A. Cowden retired as President of CCA and Homer Young stepped in to fill

his shoes.

In early to mid 1966, CCA changed its name again. This time to Farmland

Industries, Inc., however; they still kept that CO-OP symbol for a

trademark. CCA now emphasized much of its business to fertilizer, petroleum

and commercial feed. This business only grew and grew for them. "By 1967,

Farmland Industries had manufacturing facilities for various kinds of

fertilizer at Lawrence, Kansas; Hastings, Nebraska; Green Bay, Florida; Fort

Dodge, Iowa; Joplin, Missouri, and a plant under construction in Dodge City"

(Fite 281).

From here, Farmland Industries only increased its size, sales, and

dividends, not to mention popularity. Some of the major lines include:

Food Marketing, Feed, Crop Production, Grain, Beef, and Pork. Of course,

there are many, many other lines that the company has produced throughout

the years. Some of these things include: Ful-O-Pep (Union Oil Company’s

"Antiknock" gas designed to compete with ethyl), CO-OP tires, Batteries,

Groceries, Canning and Dehydration, Tractors, Paint, Twine, Steel buildings,

and many other successful ventures, along with many other flops.

"We’ve been working to improve margins-by lowering costs, by implementing

shared margin programs, by offering prebooking, and contracting

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