SUGARCREEK -- The COBA District 4 and District 6 membership meeting and management seminar took place Feb. 25 in Dutch Valley Restaurant at Sugarcreek with more than 80 members and guests attending.

Kevin Hinds, sales manager, presided at both morning and afternoon sessions. He introduced, Dan Andreas, district director, who welcomed the group and served as chairman of the business session.

Andreas announced that COBA had a very successful open house and lunch Aug. 10, 2012, at Select Sires.

"During that time there was a 'Bull Parade' of the most popular sires, a chance to see the Sexing Technologies facility (semen sexed), and a bus tour of Darby Creek Farm with its 600 sires in waiting," Andreas said. "More than 700 people attended the event."

"A most informative delegate meeting(s) session was held on Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012, at the Marriott Hotel in Columbus with 70 delegates participating," he said "First. individual district delegate meetings were held and then everyone came together and heard the reports and questions from each district."

"Select Sires and COBA key staff members were on hand to answer many of the questions raised. Realizing this event cost COBA an extra $120,000 in 2012, the delegates suggested that such an open house and joint delegate meeting be held once every six to eight years."

COBA's Board of Directors at the Aug. 11 meeting voted unanimously to close out COBA's $ 13 million Defined Benefit Pension Plan for employees, which had been frozen the end of 2005. In order to accomplish this, COBA borrowed $4 million from CoBank for less than 3 percent interest for a five-year period.

From 2006 through 2011, COBA had been expensing about $1milion a year for the Pension. In 2012 the expense will be about $4 million, resulting in one year of no patronage to customers. However, starting in 2012, the expense will be less than $120,000, which means COBA should enhance its financial position to be able to provide competitive semen prices and greater patronage.

The COBA semen sales report shows a total of 1,979,609 units sold, setting an all-time record in 2012. Such record high sales have occurred in 15 of the past 16 years, starting in 1997 when COBA sold 670,884 units in the same geographic service area.

With Bernie Heisner announcing his plans to retire as COBA general manager the end of August 2013, the COBA Board of Directors is working through the process of choosing his replacement.

Heisner reviewed some of his experiences over the years of his association with COBA. He said he looks forward to being able to spend more time with his children and grandchildren once he retires.

Hinds conducted the election for delegates. After all the meetings are completed, the ballots are counted from the Sugarcreek, Shiloh and Smithville meetings.

The invocation for the noon meal, served compliments of COBA to members and guests, was given by Hinds.

During the afternoon session, Charlie Will, Sire Procurement, Select Sires, gave the latest sire information available, followed by questions and closing comments.

In conclusion, Hinds said, "As a farmer-owned and controlled cooperative, the COBA staff and board attempt to listen carefully to determine the wants and needs of you, our member-owner-customers."