Meristem gears up to help American farmers compete

Improved crop performance, high-quality inputs, and cost-cutting are the key drivers behind Meristem Crop Performance Group, LLC, a new start-up officially launched in Columbus by crop input channel veterans Mitch Eviston and Rob McClelland, principals of the new company.

After a year of pilot-testing on more than a half-million acres with hundreds of Corn Belt growers, Meristem Crop Performance is ramping up to provide their unique high-quality, no-frills approach to select American farmers.

“Top farm businesses clearly understand the need to reduce costs if they are to successfully compete in today’s global grain trade,” said Eviston, Meristem founder and former senior vice president of WinField. “We’ve set up Meristem to be the lean provider of high-quality crop input additives to help these global players cut costs and increase yields.”

Eviston said nearly 200 such growers have already experienced the Meristem advantage.

“We are building the most efficient, direct-to-farm system which allows us to provide high-quality products that can save farmers up to 30% compared to conventional suppliers,” he said. “And we’ve spent the past crop season working with top farmers to better understand exactly what they need.”

Eviston is quick to admit, though, that Meristem won’t work for everyone.

“We’re laser-focused on serving large-scale growers who have their own spray rigs, on-farm storage, and infrastructure to support timely, effective application,” he said.

Meristem’s initial product portfolio includes crop input additives widely used by corn, soybean, wheat, sugar beet, cotton, and potato growers. Heading the board as chairman is Rod Schroeder, former chief operating officer of Land O’Lakes/WinField. Schroeder and his colleagues are credited with turning that organization into a multi-billion dollar distribution leader in providing inputs and innovative agronomic solutions to farmers. Currently an active ag entrepreneur and investor, Schroeder has a unique perspective encompassing how farmers will win moving forward.

Schroeder will lead an experienced group of diverse experts and innovators including:

  • Jeff Troendle, President, Hertz Farm Management
  • Kess Berg, Ph.D., President/CEO, Advanced Agrilytics
  • Tom Dorr, Past Under Secretary, USDA Rural Development and former President and CEO, U.S. Grains Council
  • Kevin Born, CEO, Environmental Tillage Systems
  • Justin Crownover, Owner, Lone Star Family Farms
  • Owen Palm, CEO, 21st Century Equipment, LLC
  • Kevin Van Trump, President/Owner, Farm Direction/Van Trump Report
  • Rich Wildman, Managing Member, Agricultural Development Services, LLC
  • Dave Alpert, Investor, Ag and Food Sectors.

“Farm businesses now operate in a global competitive environment where operators in countries such as the Ukraine and Brazil are busy lowering their production costs,” Schroeder said. “Top farm businesses know they are competing in a world market and must make the most of every dollar they spend if they want to be in this game long-term.”

Boosting American farmers to keep their world leadership in crop production, he adds, means helping them make the most of every resource — land, people, inputs, and even the value of knowledge local retailers provide.

“The margins on a farm are pretty tight,” said Todd McGuire, Urbana, Ohio. “It all comes down to return on investment.”

McGuire said the Meristem products he’s used have “worked well” and the money he’s saved has been “substantial.” The Meristem product list includes seed treatments under the brand RACEREADY, REVLINE plant growth regulators, TRUTRACK drift control, AQUADRAFT water conditioners and surfactants and HOMESTRETCH nitrogen stabilizers, micronutrients, and foliar nutritionals. BLUE DEF diesel exhaust fluid rounds out the current offering.

“This is just math,” said Rob McClelland, past president of Farm Journal Performance Marketing and co-founder and past CEO of FLM Harvest. “If we truly desire to help American farmers compete globally, we have to cut the fat from our distribution system.”

Meristem connects top farmers directly with manufacturers to collapse a multi-step, distribution channel.

“We’ve learned from growers that e-commerce is not necessarily bringing the savings and ease of use they expected,” McClelland said. “Savings come from tightening up logistics, not necessarily writing new software and over-promising on data solutions.”

Among the pilot operations was Armstrong Family Farms, farming more than 10,000 acres near New Castle, Ind. Craig Armstrong helped Eviston start Meristem to meet needs he saw in his own operation.

“We have to be aggressive in cutting costs if we are to compete globally,” Armstrong said. “Meristem has figured out a way to make good products and ship them direct. That saved us a lot of money last season.”

To learn more about these members of the Meristem board please visit www.meristemag.com/pages/team.

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