Two major US
agricultural cooperatives Growmark and CHS announced the formation of
Cooperative Ventures, a new capital fund that will focus on creating
advancements in breakthrough technologies for the agriculture industry.
The fund will provide differentiated value to startups in the agricultural ecosystem by leveraging the expansive, connected networks, unparalleled access to the farmgate and proven success of the two agricultural cooperatives. Both companies will be equal partners in the $50 million fund, which will be established as its own separate legal entity.
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 within North America. The fund has identified three core investment areas, or “Fields of Play,” to maximize the impact of each investment: crop production, supply chain, and sustainability.
“This is a terrific opportunity to act cooperatively by working together on a venture meaningful to agriculture and our corresponding supply chains,” said 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.”
“This partnership will help accelerate technology solutions to existing and emerging challenges in agriculture and is yet another way CHS creates connections to empower agriculture,” said Jay Debertin, president and CEO of CHS Inc. “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.”
Growmark and CHS will provide tech startups unprecedented access to robust distribution capabilities within multiple value chains, allowing for opportunities to test and refine at different scales. 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. 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. Cooperative Ventures will be comprised of teams based out of Bloomington, Illinois, and St. Paul, Minnesota.