A Century in the Making: Key Cooperative Celebrates 100 Years

There was quite a bit going on in the United States in 1918. WWI was winding down, and President Woodrow Wilson had outlined his Fourteen Points for peace. The first U.S. airmail stamps were issued. Congress authorized time zones and approved daylight saving time. The Boston Red Sox beat the Chicago Cubs in the fifteenth World Series.

In Iowa, a new business—known today as Key Cooperative—was founded. Farmers gathered at the Roland schoolhouse on April 4, 1918, for the purpose of organizing a farmers’ elevator. With 289 shares already pledged, the men moved on to selecting the first seven-member Board of Directors.

Minutes indicate the Cooperative’s first Articles of Incorporation were adopted at a later meeting on April 27, 1918. Like many cooperatives of that period, it took the leadership and determination of a few resilient farmers to get things off the ground. They scraped for all they could to purchase shares of a business where everyone would work together to overcome challenges and better their farming operations.

Today, cooperative principles are very much the same as they were 100 years ago. Membership is still open to all. Cooperatives are still owned and controlled by their members, and money earned by the business is given back to the members in the form of savings (earnings). Finally, the number-one priority of a cooperative is still to provide economic benefits to members, which come in the form of equity.

As we look to 2018, we pause to reflect—more now than ever—on the history of our member-owners. Your leadership, vision and guidance were deliberate. Your determination, endurance and focus on the common good were intentional. It is for these reasons we have the opportunity to mark this great celebration. Thank you, Key Cooperative member-owners, for a century of farming and entrusting your operations to our staff. Here’s to another 100 years!


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