Southern States, 60 N. Spring Street in Buckhannon
Southern States, 60 N. Spring Street in Buckhannon

Southern States locations approve merger, will become Freedom Ag & Energy Cooperative

BUCKHANNON, W.Va. – It’s official: Four Southern States cooperatives in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia will merge into an all-new organization, Freedom Ag & Energy Cooperative, effective January 1, 2023.

The members of the cooperatives in Winchester, Va., Oakland, Md., Buckhannon, W.Va., and Petersburg, W.Va. all formally approved the merger in votes held in late July and early August. The boards of directors at each location have also endorsed the deal, which means the four cooperatives have completed the process and will become Freedom Ag & Energy this winter.

The Freedom Ag & Energy board thanked the members at all four locations for their participation in voting for their cooperative’s future. The board noted that the cooperatives share similar visions and values and care about members’ success, making the merger a natural fit.

Jake Carpenter, manager of the Winchester co-op, said the locations are excited about the opportunities created by the new Freedom Ag & Energy Cooperative and assured customers that the products and services they know and love will be staying the same.

“The goal from day one was to take care of our customers, our employees and our communities,” Carpenter said. “We’ll look a little different, maybe even sound a little different, but we’ll have the same team, the same products and the same services customers have come to expect.”

Each of the four cooperatives has a long history of serving the agricultural needs of their respective areas, and Carpenter said that rich tradition will be preserved as they transition to Freedom Ag & Energy.

“Everything you valued before will still be there, and hopefully better than before,” he said. “There will be no discontinuation of services. What you’ve gotten from your co-op this year will be the same next year. In fact, we hope to add services in the future – improvements in both ag and energy.”

Retail customers will be able to shop an expanded inventory, as products will be synchronized between the four Freedom Ag & Energy locations. The cooperatives have been working closely with vendors to ensure a seamless transition.

“All our suppliers know the plan,” Carpenter said. “They are very excited for the opportunities they see for us.”

With the official votes now behind them, Carpenter said the cooperatives are working hard to ensure there are minimal disruptions when the merger takes effect early next year.

“The transition will be as simple as possible,” he said. “There will be some new paperwork, and our teams will be getting updated information out to everyone.”

The new, combined Freedom Ag & Energy Cooperative will have additional flexibility to capitalize on the synergies in its core businesses – petroleum products, agronomy, feed and farm supply, and retail. Employees are looking forward to the potential for growth created by the merger.

“The employees are excited,” the Freedom Ag & Energy board noted in a statement. “They see it as a win for them, their customers and their communities.”

The merger into the Freedom Ag & Energy Cooperative will be effective on January 1, 2023, and more information will available over the coming months. Anyone with questions should contact their local cooperative, which will be happy to assist.

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