Saskatchewan farmers to launch ag retail chain

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

A Saskatchewan family farm and seed retailing operation is set to become the home base for a new chain of crop input and seed retail stores.

Brad Hanmer, who farms and operates Hanmer Seeds at Govan, Sask., about 100 km north of Regina, on Wednesday announced the launch of SynergyAG, which plans to open four outlets in south-central Saskatchewan and eastern Alberta by autumn 2017.

Hanmer, a member of the board of directors for Farm Credit Canada since 2007 and for Pound-Maker Investments since 2012, a former president of the Saskatchewan Canola Growers Association and founding chair of the Biodiesel Association of Canada, will be the new chain’s CEO.

In a release Wednesday, he described the new chain as a “natural progression of our family’s 60 years in seed and crop nutrition retail.”

“We’re farmers too, and we live and breathe agriculture,” said Dave Fuller, a producer at Bulyea, Sask., sales rep for Monsanto BioAg and chief operating officer for the new chain, in the same release.

“For producers who are looking for tailored agronomic advice and a custom mix of crop inputs and genetics, SynergyAG is a unique player in the market.”

For its first store, the company said it has “recommissioned an existing full-service facility” at Lewvan, Sask., about 50 km northwest of Weyburn, and expects to open it for business this fall.

The second store, at Hanmer’s home town of Govan, is a “new full-service facility” under construction that’s expected to feature “a state-of-the-art high-throughput seed treatment facility, the first of its kind in Saskatchewan.” That site is expected to open in winter this year.

The third store, at Lumsden, Sask., about 30 km northwest of Regina, is to be built as a “ground-up” facility, in co-operation with “local ag industry partners,” to open in the fall of 2017, the company said.

The fourth, also expected to open in the fall of 2017, will be at Provost, Alta., about 125 km south of Lloydminster, to serve the east-central part of that province.

The new player, which said it plans to open more locations after its “initial wave,” would be entering the Prairie ag retail fray during a long spell of consolidation in the sector.

Calgary-based Agrium, which has operated its Crop Production Services (CPS) retail arm since 1994, took over United Agri Products (UAP) in 2008 and most of Viterra’s ag retail business in 2013 and recently made a deal for Alberta ag retail chain Andrukow Group Solutions.

Federated Co-operatives (FCL), whose 235 retail co-op owners already operate over 140 ag retail centres in the West through the Co-operative Retailing System (CRS), also bought 17 of Viterra’s ag retail outlets in 2013.

U.S. agrifood co-op CHS also entered the Prairie retail market in 2012, buying four DynAgra outlets, followed by four former Viterra ag retail stores and three Agrium CPS stores in 2014. It also announced a joint venture last year with Alberta’s UFA to set up a retail site at Sexsmith, Alta.

Cargill, which still operates 57 Cargill AgHorizons retail sites in Canada, announced in July it would sell its U.S. ag retail sites in six states to Agrium. — Network

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