Since 1918, the Beach Cooperative Grain Co. in Beach has provided farmers across the southwestern plains of North Dakota with quality service and a flexible partnership that benefits both sides of the grain sale.
Located 60 miles west of Dickinson, the Beach Cooperative Grain Co. grew out of the Golden Valley Cooperative, General Manager James Brockmoller said. For more than 100 years, the Beach Co-op has acted as a “one-stop shop” for farmers from providing chemicals, sprays and fertilizers. Compared to other cooperatives, the Beach Co-op strives for a more personalized connection with customers rather than a corporate approach.
“Our customer service is exemplary, it’s really good and people here are really friendly. To be a cooperative member is a bonus just in itself because you belong to something that’s going to benefit the community; you’re also going to get dividends back,” Brockmoller said. “I think the cooperative model is something that we can offer, and not only that but it’s more of a personal cooperative model.”
Though the Beach Co-op does not sell seed, Brockmoller said that they have provided some seed for farmers in the past to accommodate customer needs. The Beach Co-Op conducts grain purchases and sales. The cooperative deals with crops, including pulses, which are a legume variety — such as peas, lentils, chickpeas and soybeans. Pretty much any crop that can be grown, Brockmoller said that the Beach Co-op can handle it.
When the Beach Co-op partnered with the Fargo-based Anchor Ingredients to form Golden Valley Ingredients more than five years ago, it launched a new pea processing plant near the Montana border in western North Dakota. The new plant has enabled Golden Valley Ingredients to produce food grade products on-site from farm to plate, which in turn has pushed the Beach Co-op toward targeting the global pea and lentil market, according to a previous Press article.
“Mainly, the Beach (Co-op) strives to be a pillar of the community and provide any services they can to the agriculture community in this area. That’s why their agronomy has grown like it has. It used to just be a shed that they sold some fertilizer out of and it’s just grown exponentially because they’ve constantly tried to push to the next service,” Brockmoller said. “(It’s) the same thing with grain buying and selling. It doesn’t matter to me what the farmer grows, I just want to be able to sell it for them at a good price — make him some money, make us a little money and everybody's a winner. We’re really flexible.”
Across the world, the coronavirus pandemic heavily affected markets. However, Brockmoller noted that the Beach Co-op continued conducting business with southwestern farmers. The market kept moving in 2020, but prices suffered at discounted rates, he noted.
“It was a lot slower as far as customer service and stuff. (We weren’t) getting as many people in. With that, I’m sure grain sales were down because we weren’t getting as many people in. So grain purchases and sales were mostly likely down somewhat because of COVID. Obviously, people aren’t buying as much in the grocery stores so prices have been suppressed. COVID suppressed the whole grain market entirely because when we started having shutdowns in February, you just saw almost an immediate reaction to prices. But since then, prices are starting to strengthen. We’re going into spring, things are looking a lot better,” Brockmoller said.
Brockmoller took over as the new general manager on Jan. 18, 2021. With a growing agronomy market, Brockmoller noted that he sees a huge opportunity for the Beach Co-op and the impacts it can have in southwestern North Dakota.
Currently, the Beach Co-op has a 52-car unit and is rated for about half of what Dickinson and Glendives is capable of doing in terms of service. Moving forward, Brockmoller said he hopes that within the next five years, the cooperative will build a 110-car shuttle train — which is what Dickinson and Glendive have — and that will save approximately $1,300 per car.
“I see a lot of potential in this location. I think in this location, if we built a shuttle loader in the right place, we could attract a lot more customers (and) cut off some of the competition and bring in a lot more grain,” he remarked.
As the general manager, Brockmoller said he’s always trying to stay on top of serving the Golden Valley area as well as expanding the cooperative’s coverage to Dickinson, Glendive, Hettinger, Baker, Mont. and even places in South Dakota.
“I try to pull from as far as we can. I would say (within) a 150 to 200-mile radius,” Brockmoller said. “I’m constantly looking for the markets. You never want to stay stagnant and just sell (only) to one person all the time… You want to go around and call everybody, find the sale markets, make the prices work for the customers.”
The town of Beach is also on the list for Brockmoller, he said, adding that he hopes to bring back that local customer base.
For more information about the Beach Co-op, visit beachcoop.com or call 701-872-3761 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.