In the beginning, Illinois Farm Supply was focused on farm inputs, but often working with local cooperatively-owned grain elevators to provide full-circle support for farmers - from planning to planting to harvest. In 1980, a long-held agreement between FS Services and Illinois Grain Corporation was formalized in a merger that created GROWMARK, Incorporated. With the grain division and farm supplies divisions formally combined, the GROWing and MARKeting of crops created the new name for the regional cooperative.
Throughout the 1980s and '90s the GROWMARK System expanded the definition of cooperation by developing alliances with business allies beyond the cooperative sector and beyond the borders of the United States - but always for the long-term benefit of member cooperatives and their farmer-owners. The times were tough for agriculture with high interest rates, the farm debt challenge, and rapid consolidation within the industry - but the GROWMARK System was up for the challenge.
Several well known regional cooperatives disappeared from the cooperative landscape as a result of this difficult period for U.S. agriculture. GROWMARK emerged well positioned to take advantage of future opportunities.