By Todd Neeley
DTN Staff Reporter
OMAHA (DTN) -- United Suppliers, Inc., and Land O'Lakes, Inc., have approved a merger of the Iowa and Minnesota ag retailers that will combine the companies' seed, crop protection and crop nutrients divisions, the companies announced in a joint news release Monday.
The companies expect to close on the merger in October 2015.
Land O'Lakes, Inc., based in Arden Hills, Minnesota, is a member-owned cooperative with operations that span the entire agriculture business spectrum from farm production to consumer foods.
In 2014, the company, which has been in operation for more than 90 years, reported annual sales of more than $15 billion, making Land O'Lakes one of the nation's largest cooperatives, ranking 203 on the Fortune 500.
Land O'Lakes' brands include Land O'Lakes Dairy Foods, Purina Animal Nutrition and WinField. Land O' Lakes currently conducts business in all 50 states and more than 60 countries.
United Suppliers, Inc. is a customer-owned wholesale supplier of crop protection inputs, seed and crop nutrients, headquartered in Eldora and Ames, Iowa. United Suppliers was founded in 1963 and is comprised of 600 agricultural dealers that operate nearly 2,800 retail locations across the United States and parts of Canada.
According to the news release, both companies "overwhelmingly approved" the merger.
"The merger will build on the recent successes of the two companies and aims to create a single, relevant and competitive system of independent agricultural retailers," the companies said in the release.
Chris Policinski, president and chief executive officer of Land O'Lakes, said the merger will result in a company that is more competitive.
"This merger will allow us to continue to meet our customers' needs through each company's successful go-to-market strategy while providing for the size and scale to compete in an environment of consolidating suppliers and competitors," he said. "We are excited to bring our WinField business and United Suppliers together and expect our members, owners and customers will benefit greatly from this merger."
The first step of the merger, the news release said, will be to combine the companies' seed and crop protection businesses under Winfield US, LLC. The second step of the merger will involve the crop nutrient business.
"Customers are expected to benefit from expanded product offerings, enhanced precision agriculture services, tools and technologies, improved product insights, consulting services and more," the companies said in the news release.
Brad Oelmann, president and chief executive officer of United Suppliers, said the merger will ultimately benefit customers.
"Both organizations exist to increase our customers' capabilities and competitiveness," he said in the news release. "By coming together, we are true to our shared purpose, and we also preserve our different approaches to best serve a wide variety of customer needs. Together, we are positioned to protect and build the future of independent agricultural operations in an environment of consolidation."
In 2014, WinField reported $4.9 billion in seed and crop protection product sales. United Suppliers reported $2.6 billion in crop protection, seed and crop nutrient sales.
Todd Neeley can be reached at email@example.com
Follow him on Twitter @ToddNeeleyDTN
© Copyright 2015 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.