Business Spotlight

White Co. Farmer’s Co-Op


Editor’s note: City of Sparta and The Expositor are partnering in a venture to feature city businesses. Each week, Mayor Jerry Lowery and City Administrator Tonya Tindle are providing a video production that highlights a specific business. In turn, The Expositor will publish a story about that business. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” (Harry S. Truman, former president of the United States)

 The White County Farmer’s Co-Op is a true agricultural cooperative where a person can go to get everything they need for their land, livestock, lawn, or garden. From feed, seed, and fertilizer to information on how-to, when-to, why-to take care of their land and livestock, to help with their farm equipment and vehicles, the Co-Op has it covered.

In 1945, White County’s Farmer’s Co-Op first opened its doors in a small building, on Boyd Street, before moving to their current location, on Mayberry Street, in 1967. Since that time, the Co-Op has grown to include additional buildings, silos, and land. For general manager Deb Dunn, the key to the Co-Op’s longevity has been the ability to adapt as the needs of local farmers evolve.

Several years ago, Dunn recognized that tobacco – a long-standing product produced and sold by farms in White County – was going to be phasing out, and she realized that if the Co-Op was going to continue to be successful, they were going to have to find other ways to generate income and to meet the needs of farmers in the area.

The Co-Op, under Dunn’s guidance, received a Caney Fork Electric Grant and used it to convert an old-unused building into a profit-generating commodity building. Now the White County Farmer’s Co-Op is able to sell feed to other counties as well as farmers and animal owners in their own community.

“We are a rare Co-Op in that we generate our own feed,” Dunn said, pointing out that generating their own feed has made the quality of feed sold from the Co-Op better. “The less time feed is handled, the better it is for your animals.”

The last large crop of tobacco to come through the White County Farmer’s Co-Op happened in 2016, but Dunn and her crew were ready as they opened their commodity barn a year before. Since that time, the Co-Op has continued to find other ways to build and improve how they serve the White County agricultural community.

In recent years they have moved the tire center inside so that customers didn’t have to do part of their business in a small shack outside and then walk around the building to get to the main entrance. Dunn said since moving the tire center into the main building along with the showroom, sales have increased tremendously.

Other improvements include adding an additional commodity barn, a bigger silo, having hay available in trucks near the loading dock rather than moving it three times before it reaches a customer’s farm, adding a new service truck and trailer to their fleet, giving them the ability to travel to farms to help with tractor repairs, and adding new scales to the property so that full length semis can be weighed (previously they had to be weighed in three sections and then the weights added together to determine the amount of product they were carrying).

Despite all the recent growth, the Co-Op in White County still has a hometown feel to it. Whether a customer is stopping in to get a single bag of food for a pet, buy fertilizer for an entire crop of corn, or anything in between they will feel that their needs are important and that the staff is truly listening to them and helping them find both products and information.

The men and women that work at the White County Farmer’s Co-op are more than just people trying to sell you what you need to run your farm, grow your garden, or tame your lawn. They are true agricultural enthusiasts. They are farmers and animal lovers and mechanics. They can help you determine what feed is right for your cow or help you nurse a sick foal to health. They are happy to help you choose the right fencing for your livestock or the right fertilizer for your crops.

“Our customers should always feel like this is their co-op,” Dunn concluded.


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