Independent Australian farm services group, AgLink has teamed up with like-minded rural retailer businesses in Canada, the US and Brazil, to form AgLink International.
In a poignant counterplay to growing North American farm services giant, Nutrien, and consolidation by big name players such Australia's Elders and the former Landmark and Ruralco businesses, the new group combines the resources of 112 family-owned businesses with an annual revenue of $5.5 billion ($US3.8b).
Its members employ more than 7700 people, including 1860 agronomist and sales representatives, in 660 locations across the four countries.
The international alliance, chaired initially by Australia's AgLink chief executive officer, Ian Scutt, was officially launched at a big US agricultural retailers expo in Louisiana this week.
Our goal is to define and champion the position of independents as a powerful and strategic segment of the global agribusiness economy
AgLink International's goal would be to work with farm sector suppliers and industry partners on the development of new technologies and markets.
Mr Scutt said a key aim would be developing "more meaningful and respectful supplier relationships at local, national and global levels".
He emphasised while the name used the AgLink brand, it was not a takeover or merger.
Who's in AgLink?
AgLink's growing Australian network has 12 shareholder members operating in 220 locations, including prominent independent names such as Pursehouse Rural, EE Muir and Sons, AGnVET, Western Ag Supplies, Farmer Johns, AW Vater, David Gray and Company, and McGregor Gourlay Ag.
Other founding members in the international group are Brazil's AgriRede network which has 50 retailer shareholders in 130 locations; Integrated Agribusiness Professionals - a US alliance of 31 farm chemical and fertiliser dealers input sales of more than $2 billion annually - and AgLink Canada.
The AgLink Canada alliance of 16 family-owned businesses in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, was initially co-ordinated by Australia's former AgLink CEO, Bill Dowdle, who moved to Canada two years ago.
The new AgLink International will be headquarterd in Melbourne.
Mr Scutt said while the structure of the business group had capacity to trade,that was not its initial intention.
"Our goal is to define and champion the position of independents as a powerful and strategic segment of the global agribusiness economy," he said.
The new entity provided independent retailer organisations, their owners, staff and customers the capacity to be part of a larger influential body, without losing their own company culture and independence.
"AgLink International is the formalisation of a network of aligned independent agricultural retailer groups, all of whom want to retain the benefits of being local and in control of their businesses with the scale and opportunity that comes with global reach," Mr Scutt said.
Recent consolidation across rural reseller networks in Australia meant it was important to ensure the option of independent resellers remained available to local farmers.
"We are in a global environment with similar challenges and opportunities, whether we are talking about our retail networks or customers," he said.
"Fostering the AgLink International alliance is critical to provide relevance and certainty to our suppliers and farmer customers.
"It's important we remain connected across our marketplaces.
"This arrangement now allows us the opportunity to collaborate, exchange staff, enhance networking and share technologies between our home countries."
We all face the same challenges, and now will have many extra ideas and solutions to tackle them collectively
AgLink Canada's CEO, Dean Fahselt, said the focus would be on collaboration, sharing "and leveraging our collective size to provide access to the best new technologies such as digital ag and innovative inputs".
"While each of our members will continue to negotiate with their existing suppliers and relationships, we believe this new international network has potential to open conversations with key global suppliers about cross-border opportunities."
A `best of both worlds' experience
US-based IAP president, Jim Fargo agreed, the alliance could deliver a "best-of-both-worlds experience" for farmers.
"We are rallying around our common values of leadership, innovation, networking and knowledge, to add grower value based on local expertise with global reach."
International relations director of AgriRede in Brazil, Rogerio Cabral, said his members were looking forward to collaborating across a new international network.
"The opportunity we have to share knowledge, insight, intelligence and friendships across the four countries is significant," he said.
"We all face the same challenges, and now will have many extra ideas and solutions to tackle them collectively."
Mr Scutt said AgLink had licensed its brand to AgLink International member organisations for the purposes of identifying the new global organisation.
"The name makes sense to the four founding member groups as it represents what this collaboration is all about.
- Start the day with all the big news in agriculture! Click here to sign up to receive our daily Farmonline.