Alta. feedlot buys 90-year-old seed business

Kolk Farms, a feedlot and farm operation from Picture Butte, enters the seed business by purchasing Haney Farms 

A southern Alberta seed business with a history spanning more than 90 years will change hands Aug. 1.

Haney Farms, located east of Picture Butte, Alta., has been purchased by Kolk Farms Ltd., a neighbouring feedlot and farming operation.

Financial details were not disclosed.

Haney Farms vice-president Shaun Haney, who also operates Real Agriculture, an online agricultural information business, said the move to sell the seed operation, founded by his grandfather, Leonard Haney, in 1937, required careful consideration.

“We sort of did some soul searching and just felt that Real Agriculture was really where the bulk of my passion was and I really wanted to commit 100 percent of my time to that venture,” he said.

“So we made the decision to sell the seed business and the feed yard and the site to Kolk Farms, who has been leasing our feedlot for the last 10 years, so it was a really good fit. They’re very keen and interested and they want to get involved in the seed business and they’re pretty excited about it, and I am for them as well.”

Kolk Farms Ltd. is a fourth-generation family operation based a few miles north of the Haney Farms site. It has been leasing the Haney feed yard since 2008, the same year Haney Farms sold most of its land, some 4,500 acres.

The sale involves the seed business, cleaning plant and residence. Haney Farms president Dick Haney also manages the Picture Butte Feeder Co-op, a role he will continue.

“It’s something we’ve been working on for awhile,” said Leighton Kolk about the purchase.

“Kolk Farms has been involved in seed production for decades but not in retail or cleaning, so the seed production part, that’s not new and we hope to continue to grow that part.

“The retail and cleaning part … that part is new to us but because we’ve agreed to purchase assets and the facilities … the staff has agreed to stay on.”

The Haney seed business employs five people.

Haney said he and his wife, Trish, plan a move to nearby Lethbridge, where he intends to establish a new base of operations for his media business.

He said he has mixed emotions about selling the venerable seed business, but his media venture was taking most of his time.

“I’m gone the entire winter … and that’s when the plant’s busy. You can do some of that by phone and email and things like that but there’s also a face-to-face component.… It just got kind of hard.”

Kolk said the purchase will likely involve a name change for the seed business but otherwise he anticipates a seamless transition.

“The name may change, and hopefully over time we can develop new varieties, new relationships, new business. We look forward to growing into the future,” he said.

“But today, other than a name change on the top of a contract or invoice, there should be very little material change.”

Haney said he has no qualms about the seed business future.

“Really (the Kolks) are very interested in taking the legacy that the Haneys have had there since the ’30s and building on it and creating their own story,” he said.

The late Leonard Haney, founder of the operation, was a national leader in pedigreed seed development and established the farm in 1926. He was named to the Alberta Agricultural Hall of Fame in 1991 and was awarded the Order of Canada in 1993.

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