What recession?

A local grain and energy cooperative sent $231 million on Friday to its members -- and there's more on the way -- in what the co-op calls the largest-ever distribution from a U.S. cooperative.

The checks mailed to members of CHS Inc., a Fortune 200 company based in Inver Grove Heights, ranged from a few hundred dollars to just over $1 million, said a spokeswoman.

Nearly $42 million is going to the Inver Grove Heights-based company's nearly 10,000 Minnesota members, a group that includes farmers, ranchers and cooperatives.

CHS, which has ridden the recent era of energy and food volatility to record profits, recorded net income of $803 million on revenues of $32 billion for its most recent fiscal year. Its current fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31, is off to a great start, hence Friday's distribution checks.

Board chairman Michael Toelle said in a statement that the company expects to return a total of $343 million to its 1,200 member companies and 35,000 individual members nationwide in fiscal 2009.

CHS, whose earnings have more than tripled in the past four years, sells grain, feed, food, crop nutrition and energy. Its brands range from Cenex fuel to Marie's dressings, and it operates the flour miller Horizon Milling as a joint venture with Cargill.