Deerfield Farms expands to western Pa.

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SALEM, Ohio – Deerfield Farms Service will operate portions of western Pennsylvania-based Ag Central beginning July 1.

Deerfield Farms will lease and operate the New Wilmington facility and continue to offer grain and agronomic services there.

The facility also includes 120,000-bushel grain storage space.

The company will also lease space equivalent to 240,000 bushels at the Mount Jackson facility for grain storage, according to Deerfield co-owner Bill Wallbrown.

Take opportunity. “We see this as a great opportunity to service customers in that area. Ag, especially grain and agronomy, is strong in Mercer, Lawrence, Butler counties,” said John Wallbrown.

The two companies have had a business relationship over the years and started talks nearly a year ago.

Ag Central owner Rob Hodge entered into what he calls a “friendly lease-merger” due to the retirement of his parents, whom he relied on heavily for daily operations.

“We’re making sure our customers are fully serviced. I’ve got confidence in what [Deerfield Farms] can and what they will do,” said Hodge.

The Wallbrowns consider themselves fortunate Hodge approached them for the venture, the family said.

“We’re not taking anything for granted. We know we have to earn the respect of the staff ad customers there. It will take hard work, planning and organization, but we’re really excited about this,” said Bill Wallbrown.

Still in feed. Hodge will continue to handle the feed business at the Mount Jackson facility and plans to strengthen that aspect of the business.

“We want to make it real clear that we’re not in the feed business. That’s not our area of expertise,” said Bill Wallbrown.

Business progress. Though the Wallbrowns don’t necessarily have a clear picture on how business will progress, the family will “get to know the customers and employees before making any changes,” John Wallbrown said.

“We’ll evaluate what they do and then start adding July 1,” Bill Wallbrown said, noting his family plans to keep existing staff at the operations and add more where needed.

Deerfield plans to grow the business and, if strong patronage continues, to relocate the New Wilmington store.

According to the family, the current site will be developed into a shopping plaza within four to six years.

Build more. Deerfield Farms has serviced farmers in northwestern Pennsylvania through its grain bin and equipment sales and grain purchases.

“Everybody knows about consolidation, both for farmers and suppliers. To be viable, you have to go about that wisely and seek out areas where there’s a need,” Wallbrown said.

Agronomic services offered by the company include custom application of fertilizer and crop protection; lime spreading; dry fertilizer blending and spreading; spreader rental; and crop seed supply.

Deerfield Farms, based in Deerfield, Ohio, also operates grain facilities in Louisville and Kinsman, Ohio.

Prior to the lease agreement, the company’s grain storage capacity was nearly 1.75 million bushels.

(Reporter Andrea Myers welcomes reader feedback by phone at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at amyers@farmanddairy.com.)

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