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U.S. input company moves to Canada

There is a new player in the crop input and farm market advisory business in Western Canada.

Farmers Business Network has bought Great Northern Growers, a Canadian manufacturer of off-patent agricultural chemicals.

GNG produces its own branded in-house products: a glyphosate product called Smoke; a wild oats herbicide called Foax; and Clever for controlling cleavers.

The company has another 16 products in the development pipeline that are expected to be brought to market during the next few years.

FBN Canadian sales manager Glen Fafard said the company needed its own crop input manufacturing facility because it was unable to obtain access to branded products from the five main manufacturers operating in Canada.

The three wholesalers that distribute those products to retailers refused to deal with FBN.

“They’re not happy with our model, direct-to-farm,” said Fafard.

He said the wholesalers are also upset by the company’s transparent big data platform that allows farmers to share information with one another.

A number of wholesalers were contacted for this story but did not respond in time to meet The Western Producer’s Oct. 10 production deadline.

FBN entered the Canadian market 18 months ago and has built a data network used by 1,200 Canadian growers who are farming more than six million acres of cropland.

The U.S. company also recently got into the market advisory business in Canada by acquiring Full Acre Consultancy out of Alberta. Full Acre founder Ryan Denis will lead FBN Market Advisory in Canada.

FBN spokesperson Megan Fallon said the service will be different than what other market advisory firms can offer because of FBN’s robust data analytics platform.

“It’s not just speculation, which is what a lot of advisory consulting companies are doing,” she said.

“Instead, we are taking the true historical data analytics from an on-farm operation and marrying them with a true advisory recommendation.”

The service will cost farmers $7,500 per year. That includes the usual $800 annual membership fee.

Future crop marketing services will include yield and basis prediction modeling and rapid planting and harvesting polls.

Fafard said FBN originally entered the crop input market by purchasing Yorkton Distributors because it was told it needed to have a physical investment in Canada before wholesalers would entertain doing business.

But when the contracts expired the wholesalers stopped doing business and FBN had no product to sell. It had to lease the store to Blair’s Family of Companies for a year.

Now that it has its own supply of branded products, it has reclaimed the facility.

In addition to its own supply of crop inputs, FBN is accessing generic products from manufacturers in Canada and the U.S. It has a total of 14 products to offer farmers.

Growers can order those products online from their seeder or combine at any hour of the day and have it delivered directly to their farm.

“It’s a very low cost model. It will be very efficient for them,” said Fafard.

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