HALL — State legislators recently toured four agribusiness companies — Seedway, LandPro, Blowers Agra Services Inc., and Nutrien Hall Fertilizer.
The four companies represent the four cores of ag inputs — crop protectants, seed, fertilizer and equipment. Together, they employ more than 120 and account for gross annual income of over $40 million.
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and state Sen. Pam Helming were joined for the tour by a representative from Rep. Tom Reed’s office.
The tour was organized by Jeanette Marvin, administrator for New York State Agribusiness Association, a not-for-profit association promoting the New York agri-business industry with continuing education opportunities, networking, information dissemination, social media outreach and advocacy of sound science at the state and federal level. Members include agency officials, college and university researchers and extension agents, equipment dealers, seedsman, ethanol production, feed, grain, fertilizer and chemical representatives, and Certified Crop Advisers.
In the early 1900s, Libby’s was expanding rapidly into canned fruits and vegetables. Its team identified Hall as having some of the most fertile soil to grow vegetables in the country. Hall was home to Libby’s for years until it built a new facility in Geneva. Area farmers grew cabbage, beets, snap beans, red kidney beans, peas, sweet corn, carrots, onions, squash, pumpkins, dairy and grain. Today, the region’s farmers primarily grow grain, dairy, some vegetables and grapes.
Blowers Agra, owned and operated by CFO Kathy Lott and her brother, President Steve Blowers, is a family-owned dealer, offering fertilizer, seed and crop protectants. The business employees 15 full and seasonal employees and provides services to farmers in six counties.
Lott stated during the tour that today’s agriculture is a high-tech, competitive industry requiring knowledge of soil and plant sciences, with a growing avenue for computers, drones and mapping systems.
According to Lott, she and her brother have followed their father’s example, adapting to industry trends and diversifying as needed.
Each of Lott’s daughters has pursued an agriculture related education — Heidi is studying for a master’s degree in agronomy at Iowa State University and Tamara holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural business management from State University College at Cobleskill. The two have hosted school tours, teaching children that technology is not a dirty word in agriculture.
Since 1963, Seedway has offered commercial and organic vegetable, turf, and farm seed. Headquartered in Hall, they have grown to an annual revenue exceeding $160 million.
The inauspicious facility is the site of the former Libby’s sauerkraut plant built in the early 1900s and also operates the adjacent seed milling building. The company farms 500 acres of nearby land, and contracts 5,000 acres but most of its seeds are produced elsewhere in North America, even from Europe.
Seedway’s vegetable, turf and farm seed operations are located in six locations throughout the Northeast from Maine to Florida. The network of locations gives Seedway the logistical capability to serve its customers’ needs. Its farm and turf seed sales are marketed primarily on the East Coast, whereas its vegetable seed business is marketed from Mexico to Canada.
“We take great pride in being one of the last and largest full-line seed companies in North America. We are proud that all of these local businesses work collaboratively toward one common goal of serving the agricultural community.” John Bozeman, chief operating officer.
LandPro was created by a merger of John Deere dealers Lakeland Equipment and Z&M Ag and Turf, partnering with Argonne Capital Group. LandPro includes 14 dealership locations in Western New York, Eastern Ohio and North Western Pennsylvania, creating the largest John Deere turf and agricultural equipment dealer in the Northeast.
The Hall Fertilizer facility near the back of the Seedway property, is, as of this fall, part of the world’s largest provider of crop nutrients, inputs and services, playing a critical role in helping growers around the globe increase food production in a sustainable manner. Nutrien is the product of a merger between Potash Corp. and Agrium. Nutrien is the world’s largest direct-to-grower provider of products, services and solutions, with annual sales of $12B and 1,600 locations across North America, Australia and South America, with more than 3,300 crop advisors.