Dairy and beef cattle producers serving as member-elected delegates of Shawano-based GENEX attended the cooperative’s annual meeting Jan. 23 in Bloomington, Minn. Delegates from 25 states represented the co-op’s national membership and heard operational and financial reports.

“GENEX leads change,” Huub te Plate, GENEX Chief Operating Officer, told delegates. “Throughout history, we have delivered key innovations and led industry changes. If we stop changing, we stop leading.”

The co-op underwent many changes in 2018. The most significant was the formation of a new parent company, URUS, through the combination of Cooperative Resources International and Koepon Holding BV. The combination, completed in October 2018, was the culmination of a yearlong process that included a milestone vote of support by GENEX delegates.

“This combination of a cooperative and a privately-owned business was an industry first. It has resulted in an organization of enormous scale — second to none in the cattle artificial insemination industry — and holds many opportunities for GENEX members and customers,” te Plate said.

He said areas such as the genetics program and semen production operations have been centralized under URUS. Centralizing these activities enables the creation of efficient production facilities to maximize the quantity and quality of semen produced.

Other business changes during the past year included the divestiture of Central Livestock and the transition to GENEX as a global brand.

GENEX saw below-budget results in 2018: “The U.S. was challenged with continued low milk prices and issues with other commodities,” te Plate said. “These same dynamics that affect your farm or ranch profitability level also impact your cooperative and created an operating environment that made achievement of the budget difficult.”

Also impacting revenue was the industry’s shift to using beef semen on dairy females: “Targeted breeding programs using GenChoice sexed semen along with beef semen appear to be a long-term trend. In fact, beef into dairy sales quadrupled throughout the year. This, however, displaced use of conventional dairy semen,” te Plate said. “On the bright side, GENEX is positioned to help you make informed strategic breeding decisions through use of our Calf MathSM and Beef X Dairy programs.”

The international market showed some recovery from the previous year with retail operations in Brazil, Canada and Mexico gaining market share. The dairy market in Brazil was in crisis, and sales figures reflected the difficulty, yet beef semen sales were strong. The Mexican dairy industry struggled as well, though herd care product sales and increased interest in beef artificial insemination showed opportunities. Among other major markets, GENEX dairy semen sales growth was realized in China and Russia, while they struggled in Argentina. Beef semen sales in Argentina were solid.

Through all the change and the global economic turmoil, GENEX Council President John Ruedinger, a dairy producer from Van Dyne, expressed optimism for the future.

“Through all this, we need to hold fast to our cooperative business status and mentality,” Ruedinger said. “We need to do more than brand GENEX as a cooperative; we need to remain relevant to members by asking for their feedback and responding to their needs. We need to ensure the next generation of producers is involved in and driving their cooperative’s future.”

Ruedinger said the decision to form URUS is one of which delegates should be proud. Their foresight and vision to create a new company means the future is bright and the vision is clear for GENEX, he said.