VICTORIAN family-owned seed company AGF Seeds has struck a blow for local ownership in the sector with the acquisition of the Benalla-based Smyth Seeds business.
The purchase marks the first time AGF Seeds has grown beyond its home base of Smeaton, near Ballarat.
AGF Seeds marketing and technical manager Craig Altmann said the seed industry has gone through increased consolidation in recent years, mainly going to foreign ownership.
AGF Seeds is a 100 percent Australian owned and operated company, and will maintain its main processing, packing, warehouse and administration facility at Smeaton. The former Smyth Seeds premises in Benalla will remain open as a warehouse, blending, packing and distribution point.
Mr Altmann said staff in both business have retained their jobs.
“AGF Seeds continues to grow, having started with three people and now employing in excess of 30 people in peak season.”
AGF Seeds director David Toose said Smyth Seeds was a great fit and brought together two 100-percent Australian family-owned businesses with decades of experience.
Mr Toose said Smyth Seeds had been a respected major player in the Australian seed industry for nearly 70 years.
“When Smyth Seeds announced their business was for sale AGF was immediately interested as the Smyth brand was well known for the quality of their products and their knowledge and it seemed to be a good fit as we are similar companies with similar ethics and we have been looking to expand our marketing opportunities.
“Smyth Seeds has been a good contributor to the seed industry nearly 70 years and we look forward to continuing that tradition,” he said.
AGF Seeds has a history of three generations of seed producers, processors and more recently, seed marketing to bring the wide world of seed to Australian farmers.
“We have capacity to do more production, expand the product range and this acquisition will help us to distribute product into north-east Victoria,” Mr Toose said.
“It will improve access to products for existing AGF Seeds clients while continuing to serve Smyth Seeds clients.
“We already have sales people in the area and this will give them a base and inventory.”
Mr Toose said the purchase was an exciting time for the company and the Australian seed industry.
“This is our first foray away from our home base with another facility in a different location,” he said.
“The market is becoming dominated by international companies so we’re excited by this new chapter in our history.”
AGF Seeds managing director Andrew McNaughton said the expansion would be good for customers of both companies and improve timelines in getting orders to customers.
Smyth Seeds founder Mick Smyth was a founding member of the Seed Industry Association of Australia – now the Australian Seed Federation – and the now-defunct Seed Merchants Association of Victoria.
His son, Smyth Seeds director Mike Smyth, continued the business with his other brother John, who retired about six years ago as a life member of the Australian Seed Federation.
Mike Smyth said he was pleased that the company was going to a like-minded family business.
“We’re particularly pleased with the people we’ve sold it to,” he said. “We’ve known David for decades and we see AGF as a company of similar background.”
Mr Smyth said Smyth Seeds had enjoyed a long history as independent traders of quality pasture seed.
“It’s 70 years this year that our father started in the seed industry.
“John and I have been involved in the seed industry all our working lives,” he said.
Smyth Seed’s last day is October 29. John and Mike will continue to run a cattle farm in the Benalla region.
The company has been a long-standing member of the Grassland Society of Southern Australia and sponsor of the Benalla A&P Show.
Both AGF Seeds and Smyth Seeds are accredited members of the Australian Seed Federation, and AGF Seeds is carrying on a long history of seed production in Smeaton and the surrounding area.
Mr Altmann said the new business will continue to be a significant Australian seed business supplying grain seeds, forage/pasture seeds and cover crop seed, with all Australian farmers having access to the range through seed resellers nation-wide.
AGF Seeds is a key producer, processor and distributor of leading grain varieties, including Planet barley, Maximus CL barley, Commodus CL barley, RGT Accroc wheat, Trojan wheat, Rockstar wheat, Samira Faba beans, Amberly Faba beans, Kelpie lentils, and Phoenix CL canola.
The company has also been a leader and innovator in forage seed, supplying the top-ranked (Forage Value Index) annual Pinnacle ryegrass and the latest flowering nil endophyte perennial ryegrass available in Australia, Tenacious. AGF Seeds introduced Tillage radish and Freyr Sunn hemp to Australia, and supplies Forester hay oats, Marleigh forage oats and Vampire ryecorn.