Southern States Cooperative
Southern States Cooperative is an American farmer-owned agricultural supply cooperative headquartered in the Richmond, Virginia area. Southern States Cooperative supplies small, medium, and large commercial farmers with livestock and animal feed, pasture seed, vegetable seed, farm fertilizers, farm supplies, bulk fuel, and crop services, including information and products to grow better crops. They also supply homeowners with information and products for their lawn, garden, hobby farm, and home.
|Industry||Agricultural Supply, Energy, and Retail|
Number of locations
|Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Kentucky, Delaware|
|Southern United States|
|Jeff Stroburg, CEO Steve Becraft, COO|
|Products||Farm supplies, petroleum & bulk fuel, grass & vegetable seed, fertilizer, power equipment, pet & wild animal supplies, livestock supplies and feed, horse supplies and feed, fencing equipment, apparel and more|
|Services||Seed, feed, fertilizer, crop protectants, precision ag, livestock health, equine health, farm supplies, farm and home fuels|
Southern States is a $1.5 billion agribusiness with over 200,000 farmer-members and serves over 1,200 retail outlets across 21 states.
Southern States Cooperative was founded in 1923 as the Virginia Seed Service by 150 farmers in Richmond, Virginia to help develop seeds. It expanded to distribution of feed in 1925, fertilizer in 1926 and farm supplies and petroleum shortly after.
At the time, farmers in Virginia were unable to buy seed guaranteed to grow in the Commonwealth. Despite scientific findings about the correlation between the quality of seeds and the quality of crops they produced, commercial seed handlers continued to sell poor-quality seed. In 1923, about 150 farmers met in Richmond to take steps to remedy the situation. These 150 farmers, calling their cooperative Virginia Seed Service (VSS), found that pooling their resources enabled them to procure seeds better suited to Virginia's growing conditions.
VSS began distributing feed in 1925, added a fertilizer service in 1926 and started handling farm supplies and petroleum products a few years later. In the early 1930s, VSS was looking beyond Virginia and changed its name to Southern States Cooperative. Soon other states were served including Delaware and Maryland in 1934, West Virginia in 1941, Kentucky in 1945 and North Carolina in 1986.
Improvements in service also came quickly. In 1948, the cooperative established its first hybrid corn research program. Six years later, realizing it could no longer rely solely on college research, Southern States helped establish a chain of feed testing and research farms located across the country. And in 1960, Southern States and ten other regional co-ops formed a national seed-breeding research organization, FFR.
Acquisitions and SubsidiariesEdit
In October 1998, Southern States continued its growth by acquiring the wholesale and retail farm supply system of Gold Kist, Inc. The acquisition effectively expanded the co-op's territory into the Southeastern part of the nation.
Two years later, Southern States purchased the wholesale business of Agway consumer dealers and assumed all dealer marketing, development, operations, distribution and logistics for this business. The acquisition included a dealer network in Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware, and a customer service center in Syracuse, New York, as well as distribution facilities. 
In August 2017, Southern States agreed to sell its animal feed production business to agribusiness Cargill, Inc. though Southern States continues to sell a wide assortment of bulk and bagged feed at retail. 
- States, Southern. "Our Heritage | Southern States Co-op". www.southernstates.com. Retrieved 2019-04-12.
- "Southern States' legacy is built on excellence and community". Henrico NOW. Retrieved 2015-01-11.
- "Agrium buying farm-supply retail network with 20 locations in Georgia, Florida". National Post. 29 August 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
- Times-Dispatch, JOHN REID BLACKWELL Richmond. "Henrico-based Southern States Cooperative to sell its animal feed business to Cargill". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2018-01-29.