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Expanded service

Smoky Mountain Farmers Cooperative hosts a ribbon cutting at the cooperative’s new feed facility in White Pine
Story and photos by Glen Liford 1/20/2023

Smoky Mountain Farmers Cooperative hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new feed facility Thursday, Dec. 15, for customers and employees. The spacious new structure will allow the Co-op to offer commodity blended rations intended for beef cattle customers throughout its trade area. 

The Co-op has locations in Sevier, Cocke, and Hamblen counties, Waynesville, N.C., as well as two former Southern States stores in Bristol and Marion, Va., that it operates as ASM Ag Services in partnership with Augusta Co-op in Staunton.  

Once the new feed facility is fully operational, Co-op employees plan to buy corn for the rations from local farmers, providing local growers with a convenient location to sell their product, while in turn producing a quality ration for beef producers, says Chris Cox, Smoky Mountain Farmers Cooperative chief executive officer. 

“We’re simply expanding our service to farmers throughout our trade area,” he says. “The mill’s location should allow us to save on trucking cost while making our feed products more convenient for our customers.”

Most of the Co-op’s beef customers are smaller operators with around 20 to 30 head of cattle and a full-time off-the-farm job, says Chris. 

“They can’t really take the bulk feed orders that make a large feed truck delivery affordable. Instead, they bring in feed boxes and smaller bins to get their rations,” he says. 

The commodity blended feeds join the full selection of Co-op and Purina Feeds already offered by the Co-op. Purina and Co-op Minerals can be included in the rations, depending on customer needs and preferences, and additives like Rumensin® will also be available. 

The building site is adjacent to the 

Co-op bulk fertilizer facility in White Pine and was land already owned by the cooperative. The board chose a local contractor, Hale Construction in Morristown, to build the structure.

“We chose a local builder to keep more money in the community,” says Chris. 

The building measures 75 x 105 feet with 35-foot tall ceilings. Bins for commodities line each side of a long hallway, with the blender at the far end. The tall ceilings are necessary to allow large dump truck beds room to deposit their cargo without damaging the structure. 

“We’re proud of the facility and confident it will help us provide our customers with a quality product and better service,” says Smoky Mountain Farmers Cooperative Director Mike Anders. “It should save us on transportation and labor costs, and we’ll be another option for growers who want to sell corn here. It’s a win-win.”

Chris says that in a way, the facility is a return to the Co-op’s roots.

“There’s an old picture of Sevier Farmers Co-op that hangs on the wall back at the Sevierville store,” he says. “There’s a mixer mill there. At that time, a lot of the Co-op stores had some type of mixing system where they had feed storage and would mix their own feeds. It just made sense. Over the years, we evolved to meet the needs of our customers. Now we are once again going back to that approach. It all goes in cycles.” 

Customers can pick up the rations at each of the Co-op’s store locations, or if they prefer, delivery is available. For servicing larger customers, the Co-op recently purchased a new bulk feed truck to ensure ease of delivery. Check with any of the Smoky Mountain Farmers Cooperative stores for availability. On-the-farm livestock specialists are available for consultations, as well as the knowledgeable staff at each store location. 

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