U.S. agrifood giant makes Alta. farm retail play

A southern Alberta ag retailer is poised to be the first Canadian country-level branch for U.S. agrifood and fuel co-operative giant CHS Inc.

DynAgra Corp., with outlets at Beiseker, Standard, Rolling Hills and Carseland, is to join CHS’s country operations division effective later this month under the name “CHS DynAgra.”

“After substantial analysis, we decided CHS had what it takes to open up world markets for our customers while bringing a competitive presence to the retail crop input market,” DynAgra CEO Bruce Schmaltz said Thursday in a release.

“We’re confident our long-time customers will find CHS a formidable new player at a time of shrinking competitive choice in Canada.”

Financial terms of the two companies’ agreement weren’t disclosed, other than assurance of “continuity of staffing at all (DynAgra) locations” including general manager Tasha Schmaltz, son of Bruce.

DynAgra was set up as Beiseker Agri Services in 1979 by Bruce Schmaltz and his father Felix, and now sells crop inputs, fertilizers and seed, as well as finance packages. Following expansions and acquisitions in the 1990s, DynAgra was named the Canadian Association of Agri-Retailers’ company of the year in 2009.

DynAgra’s ag services division, Decisive Farming, is not part of the deal with CHS, remains independently owned, and also recently moved its head office to Irricana, just south of Beiseker.

“We are, however, excited about the expanded competitive choice that CHS will bring to our region,” Decisive Farming, managed by Tasha Schmaltz’s brother Remi, said in a separate notice to customers.

The Decisive Farming wing offers agronomy, soil fertility, crop marketing, risk management, data management and carbon credit services, plus variable rate technology (VRT) services under the Optimize RX brand. It also includes the field scouting service FlexiScout and the farm management service Know-Risk.

“Other opportunities”

CHS DynAgra is to be managed and operated through CHS’s country operations division, based in St. Paul, Minn. The division already manages about 70 farm service centres in 15 states, offering inputs, fuel, grain marketing services and other farm supplies.

“Part of our commitment to helping our farmer-owners grow their businesses included expanding our reach geographically, and Canada provides the opportunities to do just that,” CHS executive vice-president John McEnroe said in a release.

CHS has other holdings in Canadian agrifoods outside the scope of its country operations unit, and recently opened a grain merchandising desk in Winnipeg.

Acquisitions CHS has completed outside the U.S. so far this year alone include Brazilian grain handler and input distributor Atman; a joint-venture stake with Japanese agribusiness Zen-Noh in a grain supply firm, CZL Ltd.; Israeli soy protein processor Solbar; and a 25 per cent stake in TCN, a Brazilian port logistics firm.

CHS, formed in 1998 through a merger of U.S. ag co-ops Cenex and Harvest States, “continues to look for other opportunities to grow its ag retail business, both in Canada and in the U.S., to complement our overall enterprise,” McEnroe said Thursday.

Related stories:
CHS buying Canadian durum, Feb. 28, 2012
Cargill, CHS plan new flour mill for Guelph, Dec. 13, 2011
Coop federee buys Ont. grain merchandising firm, Aug. 31, 2011
New program aims to hike marketing savvy, Jan. 24, 2011

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