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Bismarck community food cooperative struggling financially

October 24, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A community food cooperative in Bismarck is struggling through some dire financial times, leaving local farmers unpaid.

The Bisman Community Food Co-op is also more than 90 days delinquent on more than $70,000 worth of bills, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

In total, the co-op owes vendors more than $236,000, with more than $42,000 of that owed to local producers.

“I wish we could pay it all right now,” said Glen Philbrick, the co-op’s board president.

The co-op had $343 in its checking account on Oct. 16. Its board attributes the problems to mismanagement.

Carmen Hoffner took over as general manager this month. She said the co-op saw $291,000 above projected sales from July 2016 to June 2017.

Hoffner said she’s cutting costs and setting up payment plans.

Grower Brian McGinness called the situation “financially devastating.”

The McGinnesses have been members of the co-op since it was established. They’re now receiving payments on what they’re owed, but have decided to not sell at the co-op next year.

“We really care about the viability of small local agriculture. From that perspective, we just wanted to offer some tough love,” McGinness said.

The co-op’s board credits its financial issues to mismanagement practices such as overstocking.

“I wish the whole thing hadn’t happened,” Philbrick said. “We have an opportunity now to get on good footing.”

The co-op was opened in 2016 with the goal of giving shoppers a place to buy healthy, locally grown foods


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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