Johnson discussed Annual Meeting Theme ‘Due Diligence’

the future of Golden Growers Cooperative. “For the most part, we discussed the potential of achieving a long-term joint venture with Cargill OR a buyout of Golden Growers interest at the end of 2026 for an agreed upon price of $81 million.” Johnson explained that a successful joint venture would depend on co-locating a project at the ProGold site that would consume a significant portion of the grind. Whether or not that will happen will depend on numerous factors that are not within the cooperative’s control. “One major concern related to Wahpeton appears to be solved with the anticipated natural gas pipeline,” said Johnson. “Even if all of the factors are resolved favorably, Golden Growers and Cargill need to negotiate a reasonable joint venture agreement,” relayed Johnson.

Johnson stated that the Board then considered the idea of utilizing a portion of the $81 million in a different enterprise for the benefit of our members. “We reasoned that starting an agricultural processing facility from scratch would be unrealistic due to cost and timing.” The board determined they would need to look at becoming an equity partner in an existing operation that processes a crop raised by members that is also in a location to allow deliveries. “It would need to deliver equal or better returns, than the current situation,” said Johnson. Member demographics was also a consideration. After 30 years, some members may want to ‘cash out’ and walk away. “Could we give members the ‘option’ of taking a payment or continuing into a different venture?” asked Johnson.

Since GGC is a Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reporting company, we have to consider how any idea would be viewed from a securities point of view. SEC registration and compliance is significant portion of GGC’s operating overhead, as high as $173,000 in 2012 to a low of $70,000 in 2021. “We asked our securities law firm Fredrikson and Byron to examine our questions.” We were informed that: a) allowing members to ‘opt out’ vs continue would be considered a ‘tender offer’ and would require a substantial and costly disclosure; b) with our membership structure, it would be nearly impossible to avoid future securities registration. The simplest way to avoid securities registration would be to dissolve Golden Growers, send the money back to our members, and offer them an option to re-invest in a totally different cooperative organization. “Clearly, once the money is out the door, it would be a pipe dream to think our members would re-invest in something new, no matter how good it might look,” continued Johnson. Based on these in-depth discussions and evaluations, “the Board determined that it will not be feasible to consider an alternative enterprise.”

Tax implications of a buyout are also being reviewed. “What strategies, if any, could we pursue that would lighten the tax load for our members?” asked Johnson. After some discussion with our accounting and tax firm Eide Bailly, we learned that a share in a partnership (GGC members’ situation) is not considered ‘real’ property for 1031 tax free exchange purposes.” Strategies to convert ownership just for this purpose is being carefully watched by the IRS and would most likely be disallowed. “We’ll continue to review and consider our options and report what we’ve learned at an appropriate time.”

Johnson then went on to discuss the future of Golden Growers Cooperative if Cargill doesn’t find a co-location partner for Wahpeton OR if GGC and Cargill are unable to negotiate a fair long-term joint venture agreement. “If there are no viable alternative options, Golden Growers will likely need to dissolve,” said Johnson. The cooperative would need to: 1) Present a plan to dissolve for approval by the membership; 2) File a notice of intent to dissolve with the MN Secretary of State; 3) Collect and pay all debts; 4) Distributed all remaining assets; and 5) File articles of dissolution with the MN Secretary of state. “If Cargill would buy our interest in ProGold in late 2026, we would like to have funds distributed and shut down operations in the first quarter of 2027.” Johnson warned that the Board doesn’t know Cargill’s intentions at this time. “In any case, because we allocate income based on patronage, we are likely to continue annual delivery requirements through 2026.”

Should the Board decided to dissolve the cooperative, certain actions will need to be completed if we are to conclude business in early 2027. We would like to know if no long term join venture with Cargill is possible by late 2025 for Golden Growers to timely complete those activities. “The clock is ticking. And each day, week, and month we get closer to December 31, 2026. Without a prospective co-location partner at Wahpeton, the likelihood of any long-term joint venture with Cargill decreases while the likelihood of dissolution increases,” concluded Johnson

Annual Meeting Pays Tribute to Lyle Hovland

In the past year, Golden Growers lost a great friend in Lyle Hovland. “It would be hard to find a more dedicated member of our Golden Growers family,” said Chairman Brett Johnson. Johnson explained that Lyle was at the first meeting of Northern Corn Processors, the predecessor to Golden Growers, on July 27th of 1993. Lyle then became an elected member of the Golden Growers board in May of 1995.

Lyle dedicated 15 years of service to our cooperative and he rarely missed an annul meeting or social event. “Lyle’s heart was always on the farm near Rothsay, MN where he raised dairy, corn and beans. Lyle’s good nature and wise advice will be missed. We offer our deepest sympathy to Lyle’s wife Darlene and the entire Hovland family,” said Johnson.

Members Elect Three Directors

GGC members elected three directors at the 2024 Golden Growers Annual Meeting.

For the North District, members re-elected Blane Benedict of Sabin, ND. For the South District, members re-elected Larry Vipond of Herman, MN.

And for the At-Large Director position, Mark Harless was elected to replace Scott Jetvig who chose not to seek re-election.

Chairman Brett Johnson expressed his sincere thank you to retiring board member Scott Jetvig who served since 2015. Scott most recently served as Treasurer and was a member of the Finance and Audit and Strategic Planning Committees.

Note: At the 2025 Annual Meeting, two Directors will be term limited. Chairman Brett Johnson and Secretary Matthew Hasbargen will not be eligible to run for re-election. Therefore, there will be open director positions in the Central District and for an At-Large Director. In addition, an election will be held for a director in the North District currently held by David Kragnes.

Audited Annual Report Available

For 2023, Golden Growers did not mail out our audited financial statements with the annual meeting announcement. This was done because we were unlikely to obtain an audit report from Widmer Roel, P.C. (our auditor) in time to send it with our notice of annual meeting.

Instead, our 2023 audited financial statements are available on the Golden Growers Website.

2023 Annual Report: Due Diligence – Examining Possibilities & Probabilities

Please take the time to review our annual report at your convenience.

PLEASE ATTEND – GGC Annual Meeting

PLEASE ATTEND the Golden Growers ANNUAL MEETING, Thursday, March 21st
DoubleTree Conference Center, 825 E. Beaton Drive, West Fargo, ND

The Agenda Includes:
9:00 a.m. Short Courses
* John Ault, Eide Bailly Cybersecurity Consultant – Cybersecurity and YOU
* Pat Pithey, Cargill Corn Merchandising
10:00 a.m. Annual Meeting:
* 2024 Election Results
* Review of the Financial Statements
* Reports by the Chairman and Executive Vice President

10:45 a.m. Guest Speaker Mikkel Pates, Retired Agricultural Reporter (Agweek/Forum)
11:45 a.m. Lunch followed by our members only Q&A session

Golden Growers is pleased to announce Mikkel Pates as our annual meeting guest speaker.

Mr. Pates is a well known agricultural journalist who has worked in our region covering major agricultural developments for over four decades.

Thirty years ago, Mr. Pates covered the creation of Golden Growers and ProGold LLC for the Forum.

We’ve asked Mikkel to provide a retrospective on his journalism career and regale us with some of his most interesting experiences.

Golden Grower Director Elections

Three Director Positions will be Elected/Re-Elected in conjunction with the March 21st Annual Meeting
Along with the notice of Annual Meeting, members have the opportunity to re-elect and elect Directors to serve on the GGC Board of Directors. Directors MUST be nominated by petition and all votes will be by mail.

Current directors up for re-election for 3-year terms are: Blane Benedict, Sabin, MN (North District) and Larry Vipond, Herman, MN (South District). Scott Jetvig, Hawley, MN (At-Large Director) has decided not to seek reelection. We are thankful for Scott’s service and dedication to Golden Growers Cooperative. Therefore, a three-year term At-Large Director position is an open seat on the Board.

Mark Harless has submitted a petition as a candidate for the At-Large Director position being vacated by Scott Jetvig.

For more information, visit or contact Scott Stofferahn, 701-281-0468 or

Scott Jetvig, At-Large Director, will not seek reelection

Scott Jetvig of Hawley, MN has announced that he will not seek reelection to the Golden Growers Board of Directors. Jetvig was first elected in March of 2014 as a director from the NE District. After bylaw changes that reduced the Board to 9 members, Jetvig was selected to serve as an At-Large member.

Jetvig is a valued member of the Board who serves on the Executive Committee as 2nd Vice Chair, Finance & Audit Committee, and the Personnel & Compensation Committee. We thank Scott for his service.

Three Director Positions will be Elected/Re-Elected in conjunction with the March 21st Annual Meeting
Along with the notice of Annual Meeting, members have the opportunity to re-elect and elect Directors to serve on the GGC Board of Directors. Directors MUST be nominated by petition and all votes will be by mail.

Current directors up for re-election for 3-year terms are: Blane Benedict, Sabin, MN (North District) and Larry Vipond, Herman, MN (South District). Scott Jetvig, Hawley, MN (At-Large Director) has decided not to seek re-election, therefore, a three-year term At-Large Director position is an open seat on the Board.

Any member in good standing is eligible to be nominated. Candidates for a District director position, must be from that district. Candidates for an At-Large director position may be from any district. If interested, you must file a petition with signatures of at least 10 members from your district for District Directors positions or 10 members from any district for the At-Large Director position no later than February 19th as required by our bylaws. For more information, visit or contact Scott Stofferahn, 701-281-0468 or

SAVE THE DATE: GGC Annual Meeting Set for THURSDAY, MARCH 21st

Golden Growers Cooperative will hold its Annual Members Meeting on Thursday, March 21st at the Doubletree Conference Center, 825 E Beaton Drive, West Fargo, ND. Members will have the opportunity to elect Directors to serve on the Golden Growers Board. Current directors up for re-election for 3-year terms are: Scott Jetvig, Hawley, MN (At-Large Director); Larry Vipond, Herman, MN (South District); and Blane Benedict, Sabin, MN (North District)

Any member in good standing is eligible to be nominated as an At-Large Director or as a Director in the district where the member is registered. If you are interested and want more information about district elections, visit our website at or contact us at 701-281-0468 or

Annual Meeting Notice, Ballot & Report – Changes for 2024

Because the 2024 Annual meeting is earlier than usual in March, it will be difficult to timely mail out the Annual Meeting Notice with election materials and the Annual Report at the same time. As a result, we intend to mail out an ‘Annual Meeting and Election Booklet’ that will contain the Annual Meeting Notice, Minutes from the 2023 Annual Meeting; a Message from our Chairman, Brett Johnson, Director Candidate Biographies, and the Election Ballot. In addition, we will include 2023 financial highlights and identify where the detailed Annual Report can be found on the Golden Growers website as soon as the audit report becomes available. This change will assure that members will receive their election ballot in time to return it before the annual meeting.

FERC Approves Wahpeton Natural Gas Pipeline

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Approves Wahpeton Natural Gas Pipeline
On October 20th, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the WBI Energy Eastern ND pipeline from Mapleton to Kindred and Wahpeton. FERC’s approval authorizes WBI Energy to construct 60 miles of 12-inch natural gas pipeline from a Mapleton, ND to Wahpeton, ND as well as extending service to Kindred, ND.

According to WBI Energy, the expansion will provide an additional 20 million cubic feet of natural gas capacity per day and is expected to cost around $75 million.

Wahpeton Mayor Brett Lambrecht thanked several people for their advocacy on behalf of the project. Specifically, he identified the assistance of Senator John Hoeven and ND District 25 Representative Alisa Mitskog.

When complete, this significant natural gas project will provide a dependable supply of natural gas for existing customers AND allow for future industrial expansion in the area.

Construction is anticipated to begin this spring with pipeline service to begin in late 2024.