Member Report 2016: Letter from the Board Chair

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Dear Members,

These are important questions, and they can only be answered by listening to you. We acknowledge that there are many areas in which we can do better. So in 2016, we undertook to become what you have asked us to be. The board of directors, in consultation with management, has introduced a new vision and mission statement for UFA. This vision speaks to the co-operative that we aspire to be: the most trusted and reliable supplier of petroleum, crop, livestock, building products and services in the markets we serve. With this renewed sense of purpose I believe that together we are On the Road to a Better UFA, and as board chair I am honoured to present our 2016 annual report.

It was another challenging year in Alberta. Farming is a risky business and mother nature can be hard to predict. Alberta has been host to farmers and ranchers for well over 100 years and during this time we have endured numerous challenges. The harvest of 2016 will be remembered and talked about in coffee shops for years to come, as the challenging weather left many of my fellow farmers with crop in the field. The economy remained in recession and the energy sector continued to see minimal activity. We saw an increase in competitor consolidation in crop inputs, driving us to seek new value propositions and show up differently in the market. We are often faced with obstacles well beyond our control, and these challenges motivate us to accomplish our goals.

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Our co-operative achieved year-end financial results that exceeded our conservative forecasts and ultimately resulted in a near break-even year at UFA. This can be seen as a major accomplishment as we navigate the worst recession our province has seen in the last 40 years. That being said, we still have a ways to go. We promised to maintain a conservative approach across the business until we see signs of market improvement, and for the second year in a row, UFA will not record earnings and will not be allocating patronage. We aim to be in a position to deliver patronage to our members for the fiscal year of 2017. Our co-operative is in better shape than it was last year, from both an operational and financial perspective. This is hard-won progress, and you can expect these efforts to continue as we move forward.

In 2016, we introduced new value for our members that goes beyond traditional expectations. We carried your voice to the table on issues like farm safety and the new carbon tax. Through advocacy, education and awareness, we have built relationships at all levels of government. These efforts raise the profile of agriculture and the working environment in which you operate. This allows us to move in parallel with the ever-changing agriculture industry and regulatory environment, and benefits our members in a way that hasn’t been demonstrated since the earliest days of our cooperative.

Our community investment division has been hard at work, remaining true to our purpose by making a difference where you live and raise your families. You will recognize important programs that support organizations such as Cattlemen’s Young Leaders, Alberta Community and Co-operative Association Youth Leadership Program, Ag for Life—and of course—supporting the next generation of leaders through our longstanding relationship with 4-H Alberta. This commitment to the communities that we serve could not be more evident than during the Fort McMurray wildfires.

Our co-operative came together to raise financial aid as well as to provide goods and services for those in need. We thank our employees, agents, members and customers for their generosity. Remaining connected to our roots and grounded in communities is an important part of our vision and mission. Co-operation, neighbour to neighbour, town to town, and member to member is a heritage to be proud of.

Looking ahead, I’m excited for what the future has in store. We will champion new and exciting opportunities to grow and develop, opportunities that make sense and benefit our members. In our industry competition is great, but the rewards of earning your trust and business are even greater.

It has been a year of significant challenges and resilient achievement, and I’m proud of the accomplishments we’ve made at UFA. On behalf of the board of directors, I wish to offer my sincere gratitude to our employees, agents and delegates for their hard work, and to all of our members and customers for your continued loyalty. With your dedication and support, we are on the road to a better UFA.

Sincerely,

Kevin Hoppins, Chair
UFA Board of Directors