Farm manager and retail group unite to match growers with processors

A unique venture that links growers with suppliers and end processors should be ready for business by the beginning of the 2000 growing season. The new venture, Farmers National Marketing Group (FNMG), will help farmers find more contracting opportunities for growing value-added specialty crops.

The group plans to secure contracts with processors for several million acres of value-added crops. An alliance of about 20 leading agricultural retail suppliers across the Midwest will supply inputs for the massive production blocks.

Two owners created the new venture. One owner is Farmers National Company, a large farm management company located in Omaha, NE. It plans to tap into the tenants of the 3,700 farms it manages in 22 states. The other owner is Farrell Growth Group LLC, Kansas City, MO, an alliance of retail and wholesale agricultural fertilizer and supply businesses.

FNMG will contact processors about specialty-grain contracts for growers. Then, depending on the type of specialty grain needed and where it will be processed, FNMG will solicit growers able to help fulfill the contracts. Chet Boruff, FNMG vice president, says the group is putting together a database of information about the farms working with it that includes each farm's location, soil type, fertility and yield data. This database will allow FNMG to find the most suitable growing conditions for each specialty crop.

"Our whole intent is to put together the most efficient system possible to get value-added grain to the processor," Boruff says. Using the yield and soil information, the group should be able to offer the processor consistent and high-quality grains. In addition, it will offer growers premium prices for the grain.

The new venture also has a special arrangement with a bin manufacturer to construct bins when a grower needs more space for the specialty grains. When growers need financing to build the bins, FNMG has another arrangement with Brenton Banks of Iowa to provide a simple financing program in several states.

"We tried to remove as many barriers as we could in the production of these specialty grains and value-added crops," Boruff adds. "Farmers need to have more alternatives in the marketplace than their standard commodity corn and soybeans."