GROWMARK, CHS Launch Joint Venture

Farmer Cooperatives Launch $50M Capital Fund to Advance Ag Technologies

Todd Neeley
By  Todd Neeley , DTN Environmental Editor
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GROWMARK and CHS Inc. launch a $50 million joint venture to help advance agriculture technology. (DTN file photo)

LINCOLN, Neb. (DTN) -- GROWMARK and CHS Inc. launched a $50 million capital fund on Wednesday focused on creating advancements in breakthrough technologies for agriculture.

The companies announced the formation of Cooperative Ventures. The fund is designed to provide technology startup companies access to both companies' distribution capabilities, with GROWMARK and CHS serving as equal partners in the fund.

According to a news release, "Having cooperative member-owners and customers within the same ecosystem will take these innovative ideas to a new level to create shareholder value and customer-focused solutions.

"Special attention will be paid to the startup's strategic fit with both GROWMARK and CHS," the companies said.

"Other factors will be based on their drive to lead in the startup space, the ability to deliver value and quality, the experience of management, and ultimately the ability to take a product or service to market."

The companies' combined markets encompass millions of acres and thousands of farmers. The companies said it creates an "industry-leading test field" for products and services within North America.

The fund has identified three core investment areas including crop production, supply chain and sustainability.

Cooperative Ventures will be comprised of teams based out of Bloomington, Illinois, and St. Paul, Minnesota.

"This is a terrific opportunity to act cooperatively by working together on a venture meaningful to agriculture and our corresponding supply chains," Growmark CEO Jim Spradlin said.

"Both GROWMARK and CHS have trusted relationships and expertise within our networks, which will provide tremendous value for technology startups and ultimately benefit our respective customers. This is a natural evolution of GROWMARK's AgValidity trial and testing program."

Jay Debertin, CHS Inc. president and CEO, said the fund will "empower" agriculture.

"Our ongoing commitment to investment in growth and innovation for the benefit of CHS owners and the cooperative system further places CHS and GROWMARK at the forefront of cutting-edge technology solutions by leveraging our deep expertise and strong connections with farmer-owners," Debertin said.

GROWMARK serves almost 400,000 customers across North America, providing agronomy, energy, facility engineering, construction and logistics products and services, as well as grain marketing and risk management services.

CHS Inc. is a cooperative specializing in energy, agronomy, grains and foods.

CHS supplies energy, crop nutrients, seed, crop protection products, grain marketing services, production and agricultural services, animal nutrition products, foods and food ingredients, and risk management services.

The company operates petroleum refineries and pipelines and manufactures, markets and distributes Cenex-brand refined fuels, lubricants, propane and renewable energy products.

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