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Business Briefs - November 1, 2017

 

Program rewards farmers for improving water quality

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Winrock International is pleased to announce the publication of Pay-For-Performance Conservation: A How-To Guide, a free comprehensive guide to implementing and managing Pay-For-Performance (PFP) conservation programs.

 

The guide that can be downloaded at www.winrock.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/PfP-How-To-Guide-Final.pdf is based on Winrock’s decade of experience pioneering PFP conservation, including the Milwaukee River Pay-For-Performance Project, which reduced phosphorus losses by as much as 40 percent from farms in the West Branch of the Milwaukee River Watershed.

PFP conservation is an innovative approach to improve water quality by financially rewarding farmers for reducing agricultural runoff, which damages water quality. Winrock has spearheaded PFP programs to reduce the amount of phosphorus that washes into rivers and lakes.

Illinois State Fair wine contest bestows its top awards

UTICA, Ill. — During the annual Vintage Illinois Wine Festival 2017 in Matthiessen State Park in Utica, the IGGVA celebrated the best wines in Illinois by presenting trophies to the top award winners from the 2017 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition.

In the commercial division, the Governor’s Cup for Illinois-Grown Fruit was presented to five wineries for the top wine in the following categories: Red, White, Rosé, Fruit and Dessert. Three other top awards for Red, White and Fruit wine were also given for those produced from any appellation.

Best of Show for Commercial Wines went to Galena Cellars, The Secret Garden for its Viognier vintage 2016.

The Governor’s Cup for Illinois-Grown Fruit went to the following: Red Table, Hickory Ridge Vineyard for its Norton 2012; White Table, Galena Cellars, The Secret Garden for La Crescent 2016; Blush/Rosé, Blue Sky Vineyards for Rosé Wine 2016; Fruit, Pomona Winery for Strawberry Dessert Wine 2016; and Dessert, Willow Ridge Vineyard for Pink Catawba 2016.

Top Awards for Wines from any Appellation were: Red Table, Prairie State Winery for its Cabernet Franc 2015; White Table, Galena Cellars for Traminette 2016; and Fruit, Galena Cellars for Unconditional Surrender Sweet Cider 2016.

In the amateur competition, there were two top awards – Best of Show Grape Wine, which went to Gerald Podraza for Pinard XIV 2014; and Best of Show Non-Grape Wine, awarded to Joseph and Ruby Sendek for Cranberry 2015.

For a full list of winners at the 2017 Illinois State Fair Wine Competition, visit https://illinoiswine.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2017-ISF-Results.pdf

BRANDT announces distribution partnership with SiteOne

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — BRANDT, a leading manufacturer of specialty products for the turf, agriculture and lawn and garden markets, has signed a distribution agreement with SiteOne Landscape Supply. With this agreement all BRANDT and BRANDT iHammer turf and ornamental products are now available through all SiteOne locations.

Formerly known as John Deere Landscapes, Site One is the largest landscape supply distributor in North America and currently has more than 450 branches serving the landscape, nursery, golf and sports turf markets. This is BRANDT’s first national distribution agreement that covers the U.S. and Canada, which will significantly expand the reach of BRANDT products in new geographies.

Genisys’ sponsored acre provides record kale harvest

OAK PARK, Mich. — Genisys Credit Union’s sponsored acre of land on Forgotten Harvest Farms has resulted in a record harvest so far this season. The acre was dedicated to growing and harvesting nutrient-rich kale that was then donated to residents of the Flint area and distributed by Eastern Michigan Food Bank.

More than 22,000 pounds of kale have been harvested to date; 30,000 pounds are expected to be harvested this year by the end of the growing season. Last year’s kale yield resulted in a harvest of more than 17,000 pounds.

Increases in yield have been due to the field being expanded and a quicker start to the 2017 season, and improved soil conditions through the implementation of a cover crop that fosters healthy soil and improves sustainability of the land.

Cargill acquires Southern States’ animal feed business

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Cargill has closed on its agreement to acquire the animal feed business of Southern States Cooperative, Inc. The deal was announced in early August and closed on Sept. 22.

Under the agreement, Cargill purchased the assets of Southern States Cooperative’s animal feed business, including seven feed mills and its portfolio of products, brands and customer and supplier relationships. The other segments of Southern States’ business – retail, farm supply, energy and agronomy – are not part of the transaction.

The acquisition strengthens Cargill’s distribution and go-to-market capabilities in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions of the United States, and provides a pathway for continued growth across the region. In addition to the acquisition, Cargill has completed a long-term supply agreement with Southern States for Cargill to supply its retail stores with Southern States branded feed.

Univar acquires Tagma Brasil to expand reach

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. — Univar, Inc. announced its wholly owned subsidiary Univar Brasil Ltda. has acquired the stock of Tagma Brasil Ltda.

Univar stated Brazil has agriculture and agro-food exports of more than $89 billion and a domestic market that serves nearly 210 million people. This acquisition expands Univar's agriculture business in one of the world's fastest-growing agricultural markets.

In Brazil, Tagma is a leading provider of custom formulation and packaging services for crop protection chemicals that include herbicides, insecticides, fungicides and surfactants. Tagma formulates more than 200 registered crop protection products and provides conception and preparation of new formulations; adaption of existing formulations; and technical assistance with processing and regulatory requirements.

AB InBev partners with agriculture technology firm Agrible

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) and Agrible, Inc. announced a global partnership to improve barley production while minimizing environmental impact.

The two companies are joining forces to help farmers around the world access better data and predictive analytics on crop management and climate effects. AB InBev is the largest brewer and user of malt barley in the world. In 2013, it created SmartBarley, an innovative platform and incubator which leverages data, technology and insights to help farmers solve challenges and improve their productivity and environmental performance.

Today, SmartBarley is present in 13 countries across five continents. To enhance this program, Agrible will provide farmers with access to their proprietary software, Morning Farm Report. This software helps growers detect disease threats earlier, improve logistics planning, monitor crops on all fields and improve quality.

Agrible and AB InBev will also work together to develop sustainability insights and metrics in areas such as water use, land efficiency and the carbon footprint from growing and sourcing ingredients.

United Fresh, WG provide recall insurance to produce industry

IRVINE, Calif. — The United Fresh Produce Assoc. and Western Growers (WG) have entered into a formal marketing agreement to jointly promote the Western Growers Shield, a first-of-its-kind insurance program specifically designed to protect food companies from recall liability.

Under the terms of the agreement, United Fresh will exclusively endorse and promote this proprietary program encompassing property, contamination, recall, liability and non-physical damage loss of income. United Fresh and WG will also work together to provide several other proprietary WG solutions to the fresh produce industry.

To learn more about the Western Growers Shield program, visit www.wgis.com/sites/default/files/wgwhite_paper_one_sheet_rev02.pdf

Grigg Brothers rebrands turf business as GRIGG

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Grigg Brothers, the leading turf nutrition brand, is being rebranded as simply GRIGG. With a modern, updated look, GRIGG will remain the premier golf and sports turf brand in the BRANDT product portfolio. BRANDT, which bought Grigg Brothers in 2014, is a leading manufacturer of specialty products for the turf and ornamental market.

The rebranding includes a new website – www.grigg.co – that puts the company’s university trials and research, technical papers, nutrition programs and catalog at customers’ fingertips within a few clicks. It also includes a revamped social media presence on Facebook and on Twitter using the handle @GRIGGco

GRIGG was established in 1992 by brothers Mark and Gary Grigg, who joined forces to put their combined entrepreneurial spirit, agronomic education and turf experience together to create cutting-edge turf nutrition products. Mark and Gary continue to lead the GRIGG brand.

Harrison County home to Ohio Tree Farm of the Year

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Hepatica Falls Tree Farm, located in Harrison County in east-central Ohio and owned by Randy and Koral Clum, has been named 2017 Ohio Tree Farm of the Year by the Ohio Tree Farm Committee, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

The Clums have actively managed their 152-acre woodland for the past 24 years. In the spring 2017 issue of The Ohio Woodland Journal, Koral Clum wrote an article about the tree farm, sharing that they divided the property into nine management units, from three acres up to 52 in size. The family applies different forest management techniques to each unit, resulting in an excellent venue to compare and contrast different forest practices.

The Clums are also professional consulting foresters, with the goal of promoting science-based forest management in Ohio’s forests. They are active in the East Central Ohio Forestry Assoc., a regional group of woodland owners, the Society of American Foresters and the Ohio Chapter of the Assoc. of Consulting Foresters.

A public field day is planned for Oct. 21 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., at the farm to highlight conservation practices, with demonstrations by forestry and wildlife experts. For more information, contact Cotton Randall, DNR Division of Forestry, at 614-265-6667.

Indiana Farm Bureau announces new state PAC, AgELECT

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc. (IFB) has launched AgELECT, the organization’s new state political action committee (PAC). AgELECT contributions will be used to support state Senate and House candidates who are supportive of Indiana agriculture. With the creation of AgELECT to focus on state races, IFB’s existing ELECT PAC will be used at the federal level.

IFB believes it’s crucial to support elected officials who value farmers. Both PACs will work to enhance agricultural related interests through involvement in the political process and influencing the selection, nomination and election of individuals to public office. AgELECT will operate with identical grassroots endorsement procedures to ELECT, the organization’s existing federal PAC.

AgELECT provides more fundraising flexibility by expanding the pool of potential donors to corporations and non-members. Individuals, LLCs, sole proprietorships and partnerships are able to contribute an unlimited amount of money to AgELECT. Corporate contributions, however, are limited by Indiana state law.

NCBA’s Redbook for ranchers now available for 2018

DENVER, Colo. — A pocket-sized recordkeeping tool used by cattle producers for more than 30 years is now available for 2018. The Redbook from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Assoc. helps cattle producers effectively and efficiently record their daily production efforts, helping enhance profitability.

The 2018 Redbook has more than 100 pages to record calving activity, herd health, pasture use, cattle inventory, body condition, cattle treatment, A.I. breeding records and more. It also contains a Producers Guide for Judicious Use of Antimicrobials in Cattle, Beef Quality Assurance Best Practices and proper injection technique information, as well as a calendar and notes section.

Redbooks can be purchased for $7 each, plus shipping and handling. Customization of the Redbooks is available (for 100 books or more), and quantity discounts are available. To order, visit www.beefusa.org

FieldAlytics now available to Canadian farmers

SASKATOON, Saskatchewan — FieldAlytics is now available in Canada through FieldAlytics Solutions Canada, Inc. This new company is the exclusive marketing organization for the EFC Systems, Inc.’s FieldAlytics suite of precision agriculture and field data management tools throughout Canada.

FieldAlytics has been used by a select group of Canadian equipment dealers for more than five years, but has not been widely available in Canada. FieldAlytics Solutions Canada will provide a complete suite of digital geospatial products and support that are distinctly relevant to Canadian producers, input suppliers and equipment dealerships.

FieldAlytics is one of the longest-established cloud-based geospatial tools for agriculture, providing a complete suite of geospatial, financial and planning tools for agriculture. EFC Systems, headquartered in Brentwood, Tenn., has been providing agribusiness solutions for more than 25 years and has clients in 47 states and throughout Canada.

Kentucky approves more than $1.2 million for projects

WINCHESTER, Ky. — The Kentucky Agricultural Finance Corp. (KAFC) approved $1,203,650 in eight agricultural loans for projects in the Commonwealth at its board meeting in September.

Beginning Farmer loans went to eight recipients in Boone ($200,000), Bracken ($125,000), Fulton ($250,000), Green ($67,650), Harrison ($76,000), Madison ($250,000), Pendleton ($175,000) and Shelby ($60,000) counties. The Beginning Farmer loan is designed to assist individuals with some farming experience who desire to develop, expand or buy into a farming operation.

Beginning farmers may qualify for financing to purchase livestock, equipment or agriculture facilities; to secure permanent working capital; for the purchase of farm real estate; or to invest in a partnership or LLC. For more information on the programs offered by the KAFC, contact Beth Mobley, director of loan programs, at 502-782-1764 or beth.mobley@ky.gov or visit the KAFC webpage at www.kafc.ky.gov

Peterson, Terva join Iowa Ag Startup Engine effort

AMES, Iowa — The Ag Startup Engine (ASE), located at the Iowa State University Research Park, announced Peterson Genetics has joined the effort to bring education, mentoring and financing resources to Iowa entrepreneurs and startups focused on agriculture technologies.

The ASE effort was launched two years ago to help address two fundamental gaps that prevent agricultural startups and entrepreneurs from being more successful in Iowa: early seed stage investment and organized mentorship from successful Iowa and Midwest entrepreneurs.

Peterson joins Veridian Credit Union, Hertz Farm Management, Iowa Farm Bureau’s Renew Rural Iowa, Next Level Ventures, Summit Agricultural Group, Ag Leader Technologies, Ag Ventures Alliance and Peoples Co. as the ninth member of the ASE.

The ASE also announced it has made an initial seed investment in Terva – sometimes referred to as the “Zillow of agricultural farm real estate.” This is the fifth Iowa-based startup ASE has invested in since its formation.

Terva’s central mission is to make the world’s farmland information more accessible. The company achieves this mission through its online marketplace for farmland real estate. Terva streamlines the farmland sales and rental process by connecting landowners with farmers and real estate professionals so they can buy, sell and rent farmland.

Terva joins fellow Iowa-based startups Performance Livestock Analytics, Nebullam, Gross-Wen Technologies and Smart Ag in the portfolio companies of the ASE Fund. ASE aims to provide agricultural entrepreneurs a structured means of moving from a startup concept to a seed-ready business. Working in partnership with ISU’s Startup Factory Accelerator, the program is implementing an infrastructure for mentoring, rapid prototyping, product development, financing and customer acquisition.

Over the next two years, the Ag Startup Engine hopes to add 5-10 more agriculture technology startups like Terva to the portfolio, ranging from animal health to precision agriculture.

S2G Ventures secures $180 million for Fund II

CHICAGO, Ill. — S2G Ventures (Seed to Growth) a leading multi-stage investment firm focused on the food and agriculture industry, announced that it closed on an additional $180 million in committed capital, taking total assets under management to $300 million.

In addition, the firm announced that Aaron Rudberg has joined the firm as managing director and chief operating officer. In this role, Rudberg will have responsibility across the operations of the business as well as developing out the strategic relationships for the firm.

The additional $180 million in Fund II capital enhances S2G’s ability to pursue investments in its targeted food and agriculture sectors. Since its founding in 2015, S2G has invested in 30 companies. In aggregate, S2G companies expect to achieve more than $550 million in revenue in 2017 – with average growth of 150 percent over 2016 revenues.

Rudberg has worked in and around private equity and venture capital his entire professional career, and brings experience from all sides of the industry. Prior to joining S2G, he spent nearly 10 years at Baird Capital where he was a partner and managing director overseeing the global strategy, investor relations, marketing and business development for the $3.3 billion global private equity and venture capital business.

S2G Ventures (Seed to Growth) is a multi-stage venture fund investing in food and agriculture in the U.S. The fund’s mission is to catalyze innovation to meet consumer demands for healthy and sustainable food. S2G has identified sectors across the food system that are ripe for change, and is building a multi-stage portfolio including seed, venture and growth stage investments.

Hoosier Farmers Market group awarded USDA funding

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The Hoosier Farmers Market Assoc. (HFMA) was awarded funding just short of $500,000 from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Farmers Market Promotion Program (FMPP).

This funding will allow Hoosier Farmers Markets to further grow and support farmer-to-consumer markets, community supported agricultural programs (CSAs), farmstands, farm markets, farmers’ markets and innovative direct-marketing activities throughout Indiana.

The FMPP was authorized and funded by Congress in 2008. Since then, it has awarded more than $58 million in projects striving to increase domestic consumption of, and access to, locally produced agricultural products through investments in farm and ranch operations serving local markets. Only 11 percent of FMPP applications were selected this year.

Indiana is home to approximately 350 direct farmer-to-consumer entities, half of which are farmers’ markets. HFMA has more than 100 members, each of which holds dual membership with the national nonprofit organizations Farmers Market Coalition and Wholesome Wave.

Development and execution of the program will be a collaborative effort led by the HFMA and project partners IndyEast Promise Zone, Indiana University Public Policy Institute and DK New Media. Farmers, CSAs, farmers’ markets and other organizations interested in partnering with HFMA in this project can visit www.hoosierfarmersmarkets.org

Tractor Supply breaks ground on new store in Rushville

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — Tractor Supply Co. has begun construction on a new store in Rushville, Ind. Construction on the store, to be located at 1520 North Main Street, began Oct. 2 with a goal of opening in 2018.

Tractor Supply will serve as a one-stop shop for the Rushville community’s farmers, livestock and pet owners, ranchers, part-time and hobby farmers, gardeners, homeowners, tradesmen and others. The Rushville Tractor Supply plans to hire 12-15 employees with firsthand knowledge and expertise in caring for pets, livestock and land.

At the store, customers will be able to shop a wide selection of products at a great value including work wear and boots, tractor and trailer parts and accessories, lawn and garden supplies, sprinkler and irrigation parts, power tools, fencing, welding and pump supplies, riding mowers and more.

The Rushville store will also carry a wide variety of food and supplies for pets, equine and livestock, as well as a pet wash station where customers will have access to professional-grade wash bays, grooming tables and tools. The Tractor Supply team will also seek to support pet adoption initiatives, 4-H and FFA, county fairs and livestock shows.

W. R. Newman & Associates will construct the 19,097 square-foot retail space that will include a sales floor, external support service area and pet wash station. The store opening, which is expected to occur in the spring, will kick off with a four-day Grand Opening celebration, during which customers can sign up for Tractor Supply’s new Neighbor’s Club loyalty program.

Cargill takes full ownership of business in South Africa

PIETERMARITZBURG — Further expanding its commitment to growth in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), Cargill is acquiring full ownership of the Provimi-branded Cargill Premix & Nutrition SSA business from Astral Foods.

Cargill – through an investment it made in 2012 – owned 75 percent of Provimi-branded Cargill Premix & Nutrition as part of a joint venture with Astral Foods. As part of that investment and to reinforce its commitment to SSA, Cargill built a new premix and base mix facility in Pietermaritzburg.

It also assumed managerial control of NuTec Southern Africa at that time and migrated its name and product portfolio into Cargill’s Provimi brand. Today, Cargill has taken that investment one step further by acquiring the remaining 25 percent of that company.

Astral Foods remains an important business partnership for Cargill. As part of the deal, Astral and Cargill entered into a five-year premix supply agreement, and Cargill continues to support Astral technically, building on the basis of a long and solid relationship. The investment is part of a broader plan to develop Cargill’s presence in the animal nutrition business throughout the Middle East and Africa region.

EFC Systems announces the purchase of AgSolver assets

BRENTWOOD, Tenn. — EFC Systems, Inc., a leading provider of solutions for agricultural retailers, announced it has purchased the assets of AgSolver, Inc.

The move establishes a new Agronomic Planning and Sustainability division at EFC Systems, which Dr. Dave Muth will oversee as vice president. The technology and team of 12 that comes to EFC Systems will be a significant expansion to its efforts to help agricultural retailers and growers in both planning and sustainability efforts.

This acquisition also establishes an Ames, Iowa, location where the AgSolver team has been located allowing for expansion with additional Merchant Ag and FieldAlytics client services team members.

CME expands Pacific footprint with opening of Sydney office

SYDNEY — CME Group announced the official opening of a new office in Australia. Located in Sydney's Central Business District, the new office affirms the company's commitment to growth in Asia Pacific, and comes at a time when CME’s business in the region continues to experience healthy growth.

CME’s Sydney office will be led by Simon Raybould, Head of Australia. Raybould was previously a non-executive director at CME Europe, and he has more than 35 years of experience in the financial services industry, including in various senior positions at Barclays, Euronext Liffe and MF Global.

With the latest opening, CME Group now has offices across seven locations in Asia Pacific with about 300 employees across various roles, including business development, clearing, customer service, marketing, market operations, quantitative engineering, sales and technology.

Cargill bolsters sow research capabilities with Iowa center

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Cargill’s animal nutrition business is expanding its sow research capabilities with the opening of a new technology application center in Britt, Iowa. Under the agreement, Cargill will lease the entire farm, which includes gestation, lactation and gilt development, and houses nearly 2,000 sows.

The Iowa location is ideal for Cargill researchers because of its proximity to the Cargill Global Innovation Center in Elk River, Minn., which allows Cargill to leverage resources for research and to accommodate customer visits and training.

Brooke Humphrey, global pork technology director for Cargill’s animal feed business, said, "We can continue to monitor how feeding the sow impacts the performance of offspring all the way to final market weight. We believe that linking our sow and innovation center capabilities together creates a one-of-a-kind innovation capability that is unmatched in the industry.”

Cargill will use this capability to focus on piglet livability, and provide on-farm training to employees in either technical or commercial roles. The Iowa farm has been owned and operated by John and Becky Hejlik for 19 years and they have successfully managed a highly productive herd that has become well-known for producing top-quality, heavy weaned pigs.

Indiana Ag Department launches conservation ‘one-stop’

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Improving water quality and soil health continues to be a priority for farmers statewide, and while data has always been available to support this claim, it hasn’t been accessible in one, easily navigable location. To address this issue, the Indiana State Department of Agriculture (ISDA), using information compiled by the Indiana Conservation Partnership (ICP), launched an online story map, a one-stop shop for Indiana’s conservation efforts.

Located on the ISDA website, the interactive conservation story map organizes information by Indiana’s 10 main river and lake basins, which are then broken down by watershed. Each basin includes sections on water quality and soil health that encompass everything from total acres of cover crops planted to sediments prevented from entering Indiana’s waterways.

In addition to historical and geographical information, the story map also showcases some of the voluntary conservation efforts currently taking place by the basin’s rural, urban and suburban residents, as well as organizations and initiatives operating locally.

Information on where the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) conducts water quality monitoring throughout the state is also available, and farmers and conservationists can find basin-specific resources, tools and programs listed under the education tab. For more information, or to access the conservation story map, visit www.isda.in.gov/2991.htm

Rural King to move into old Tennessee Kmart building

SWEETWATER, Tenn. — A new store will be moving into the former Kmart building in 2018, Sweetwater city officials confirmed. The local Advocate and Democrat newspaper reported that Rural King Supply, a farm and home department store, has agreed to purchase the former Kmart building, which has sat idle since Kmart closed and moved out in the summer of 2016.

Sweetwater Mayor Doyle Lowe said the city has been working to get Rural King in the building for a considerable amount of time. He thanked Planning Officer Scott Wilson for working to bring the store to town.

Rural King’s website says the company started in Mattoon, Ill., in 1960. Since that time, Rural King has added more than 100 stores in a 12-state area (Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Florida, North Carolina, West Virginia and Virginia). The heart of Rural King is the corporate office, distribution center and flagship store, which are located in Mattoon.

Wilson said Rural King plans to use all the space in the large building. The company has already posted Sweetwater job openings on its website. Wilson said the store should open up in the spring of 2018.

FarmLead launches new online grain testing service

CHICAGO, Ill. — FarmLead, North America’s largest and fastest-growing online grain marketplace, announced the launch of GrainTests.com

The latest addition to the FarmLead ecosystem, GrainTests.com is the first online service that allows grain farmers to conveniently test their grain. Farmers can obtain third-party validation from the best testing labs across North America including BioVision, Cotecna, Intertek, NDGI, NQI, SGS and 20/20 Seed Labs.

Unlike traditional grain testing methods that rely on manual and time-consuming processes, the new GrainTests service by FarmLead streamlines the process. Freeing farmers from the typical workday-hour constraints and paperwork, phone calls and emails between farmers and lab managers, the GrainTests online portal moves grain testing into the digital era and gives farmers 24/7 access to labs and payment processing.

In addition, the resulting independent perspective of what is for sale helps buyers know they are paying a fair price. For more information about the new FarmLead service, go to www.GrainTests.com or www.FarmLead.com

Tillerman buys DF Seeds, looks to buy regional suppliers

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Tillerman Seeds LLC, a Grand Rapids-based company created to acquire regional producers of specialty, GMO and non-GMO seeds, has purchased the assets of Dansville, Mich.-based DF Seeds Inc. in its first transaction.

DF Seeds, an award-winning supplier of soybean and wheat varieties that are best-suited to grow in Michigan’s unique micro-climate, serves more than 400 farmers with seeds that generate higher yields and increased resistance to disease and pests. Founded in 1992, the company will continue to operate under the DF Seeds brand with the same local team, including President Chris Varner, a 25-year veteran of the seed industry.

Tillerman Seeds intends to purchase small seed companies with an established regional presence or specialty products that have growth potential. The holding company plans to operate acquired companies as standalone entities with shared back-office services including accounting, human resources and purchasing.

DF Seeds and other acquired companies will also collaborate on research and development, as well as best business practices for customer service, marketing and cross-selling of product lines.

Varner will continue to serve in a leadership position with DF Seeds, where she has worked since 2009 and been an owner since 2013. Tillerman & Co., which provided structuring, negotiation and capital formation on the transaction, will provide financial management for the new company and its subsidiaries until a permanent chief financial officer is hired.

Wells Fargo provided senior debt financing and a revolving credit facility to Tillerman Seeds. The Grand Rapids office of Barnes & Thornburg provided legal counsel to Tillerman Seeds on the transaction. The Grand Rapids office of Dickinson Wright PLLC represented the sellers.

 

11/2/2017