"My first experience was 1944 when I first farmed an 80 acres. And my dad said, 'You'd better' – at that time you paid $50 to be a member – he said, 'You'd better be a member.' So I did, and I got my $50 back the first year with dividends, profits they made for me when I sold grain. And I've been a very strong cooperative person ever since. I use all their chemicals and fertilizer and gas…
   "The history of our cooperative in Benedict started in 1902. They had three grain people in town. Of course, Benedict wasn't very big."
   Question: "Three grain people?"
   "Merchandisers, to buy your grain and ship it. They were taking too wide a margin the producers thought. At that time, probably corn was selling for around 15- to 25-cents [a bushel]. They was selling at too big a margin. So, they [the farmers] decided they would form a cooperative and build an elevator, and which they did. And it was incorporated in 1902. And during this time when they done that, they had two fires right before harvest time in their elevators, the co-op did. And the board of directors said they were going to hire a night watchman for him to shoot to kill. They didn't have any more fires in the elevator. So that's been very strong cooperative era, time period with Benedict. There's a lot of them [other co-ops] came after that, of course, around but they – [We had] our 80 year celebration they had [only] two years they didn't make money. Otherwise, they made profits for all the years and returned it back to the producer"
   Question: "How does that work? I mean, again, for somebody that doesn't understand it, what's that local economy like between the co-ops and the for-profits?"
   "Well the private is, they just take their profits and stick it in their pocket. Where the cooperatives give it back. But there's really not that many in Nebraska that are private in the elevator business. There is in fertilizer, and so forth. But, it's been good to me. I've served on the co-op board in Benedict for 12 years. From there I went to Farmland Industries in Kansas City for 15 years there. But it's been good to me…
   "At regional level, that's where all the exporting – looking for customers like that. And they have a big outlet on the West Coast and also in Minneapolis on the Great Lakes. We also have one in Louisiana for exporting. So, it's been important to us grain farmers to have that in place and hard to put a real value of what you actually got because of that. But, it all runs together."

Winton Wright – The Co-op Movement


Other Excerpts from Winton Wright’s Interview:

Coming Home from the War
Blizzard of ’49
Rural Banking
Dams on the Missouri River