Great Lakes Grain

Great Lakes Grain

May 05, 2009 14:38 ET

A New Great Lakes Grain Is Formed Through Strength in Partnerships

CHATHAM, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - May 5, 2009) - Ontario's co-operatively run grain marketing company, Great Lakes Grain is bigger and stronger thanks to a newly arranged partnership between AGRIS Co-operative Ltd. and GROWMARK, Inc. (including FS PARTNERS, a division of GROWMARK, Inc.). This is a strategic move that addresses the need for growth and change in today's economic climate.

The newly arranged partnership now involves increased financial commitment from GROWMARK and the addition of its FS PARTNERS branded grain facilities. The trade area stretches from Windsor through Toronto and to north of Georgian Bay. In total, the grain sites can store 460,000 metric tons of grain and has increased grain handling capabilities by 60 per cent, amounting to approximately 800,000 metric tons per year. Operating or utilizing 30-plus grain sites, Great Lakes Grain is expected to sell approximately 30 million bushels of grain per year.

GROWMARK Chief Executive Officer Bill Davisson says that these types of grain marketing initiatives offer a way to combine financial strength with local expertise, ownership and management. The grain business is a strong component of GROWMARK's business strategy and in the past few years several similar grain partnerships have developed. "We see these as win-win situations. They position us for the future and benefit the local producers," Davisson says.

Newly appointed general manager for Great Lakes Grain, Alex Elliott, says that the new partnership model will increase bargaining power among industrial grain buyers and improve access to financing. Partnering with GROWMARK on a larger scale provides the added financial stability needed in a volatile market and the ability to provide more opportunities for farmers to market their grain in Ontario and internationally.

The organization's marketing tagline reads: Co-operatively owned by farmers. "Our co-operative way of doing business also gives us an advantage," Elliott says. "We have access to a broader reach into the market through our co-operative network that our competitors don't have." Great Lakes Grain operates under co-operative principles and values. The management team reports to a board of directors made up of representatives from its owner-partners and will also report to and consult with its partners' management teams.

AGRIS Co-operative has been a partner in Great Lakes Grain since the beginning. "Now, it is one of the largest grain merchandising companies in Ontario," says the co-operative's president David Malott. He says that the combined resources and expertise will better position Great Lakes Grain to strengthen its grain service packages for farmers. "We will be better equipped to react positively to changes in market trends, such as the movement toward increased on-farm storage. We can also provide unique marketing tools that will assist farmers with their risk management needs. All of this ultimately creates better opportunities for our farmer-owners to market their grain more effectively," Malott says.

GROWMARK, Inc. is a regional co-operative that provides agriculture-related products and services to farmers and rural residents in Ontario and the United States through local FS member co-operatives and by GROWMARK subsidiaries. FS branded and related products and services include crop inputs, crop protection, seed, grain marketing, energy products, feed and animal health as well as a variety of consumer related products. GROWMARK reported US$6.7 billion in sales for 2008. FS member co-ops in Ontario handled almost a million metric tons of grain through its facilities in Ontario in 2008.

FS PARTNERS is a retail division of GROWMARK that manages the day-to-day businesses of 22 FS branches throughout central, western and northern Ontario.

AGRIS Co-operative Ltd. is a one-hundred-per-cent farmer-owned grain marketing and farm-input supply company and serves more than 1,200 farmer members in 14 locations in Essex, Kent, Elgin, Middlesex and Lambton Counties. It is a leader in precision farming technology, seed, agronomy and petroleum services. AGRIS Co-operative is a partner-owner of Great Lakes Grain which is one of the largest operators of country elevators in Ontario. Great Lakes Grain provides grain marketing services and specializes in identity preserved grain markets. AGRIS Co-operative is a member-owner of GROWMARK, Inc. and markets products and services under the FS brand.

Great Lakes Grain has been operating since 2001 providing services in commodities including trading, storage, drying and delivery as well as marketing services for corn, soybeans, wheat, canola, barley, oats, mixed grains, soybean meal and dried distillers grain.

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