It’s not often a cooperative can say its name describes exactly what it does and who it largely serves, but Agralite Electric Cooperative fits that bill.
The Benson, Minnesota-based electric co-op held a contest in 1940 for members to select its name. The winning name, “Agra Lite Cooperative,” was submitted by a member with the explanation that “Agra” is Greek for “farm” or pertaining to farming. A literal translation of the name would be “Farm Light Cooperative.” After a member vote, it became Agralite.
A sampling of its notable business accounts reflects that name to this day:
- Fresha, a carrot processing facility, designed with advanced technology that allows high-quality, fresh carrots to be produced in the Midwest nearly year-round.
- Riverview Dairy, the Midwest’s largest producer with six large dairies in the co-op’s territory.
- Chippewa Valley Ethanol Company (CVEC), founded more than 20 years ago by local corn producers and cooperative leaders who looked to add value to the crops they produced. It has the capacity to produce 50 million gallons of ethanol annually and is recognized at both federal and state levels for efficient production and leadership in shaping ethanol policy.
- Glacial Grain Spirits, a subsidiary of CVEC, one of the only farmer-owned manufacturers of industrial, organic, food-grade and beverage alcohol products in the U.S.
Local businesses are supported by Agralite as the co-op helps them secure financing through the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program, which provides funding for rural projects through local utilities. The USDA offers zero-interest loans to those utilities that then pass them through to the businesses for projects that will create and retain employment in rural areas.