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Growmark makes $50 million investment in ag innovation technology

Growmark signage
Ashley Binkowski
/
WGLT
Growmark is partnering with a Minnesota firm to invest in ag sector technological innovation.

Bloomington-based Growmark and St. Paul, Minn.-based CHS are investing $50 million to make technological breakthroughs in agriculture.

Incoming Growmark CEO Mark Orr acknowledged $50 million might not be enough, saying, "We looked at that early on. It's a start. We're anticipating we will invest the funds over the next four to five years. We want to make sure we get the return on innovation we're looking for."

Orr said if the Capital Ventures fund succeeds in creating marketable products, Growmark may add to the investment, adding the fund will invest in three areas.

"On the crop input side, it will be on nutrients, seed protection; that's one big bucket for us. The second bucket is the logistics side, the supply chain. We'll focus on the last mile, from our members to the farm gate. The third and final piece will focus on sustainability, whether that's on the greenhouse gas area or carbon capture," said Orr.

The combined markets of the two companies cover millions of acres and thousands of farmers that will create an industry-leading test field for products and services in North America, the companies said in a news release.

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

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

Growmark has 400,000 members in North America. It has the FS trademark and also owns and operates Seedway, the largest seed company in the nation. 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 also operates petroleum refineries and pipelines and manufactures refined fuels, propane and renewable energy products.

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