Friday April 25, 2014

Farmers of N. A. renews push for fertilizer plant


A western Canadian fertilizer plant owned by farmers for farmers is progressing rapidly according to Bob Friesen, a Farmers of North America (FNA) spokesperson for the project dubbed ProjectN.

“It’s full speed ahead,” Friesen said. “So far, there have been no hiccups in advancing this project.”

The only outstanding question, he said, is how many farmers are going to be part of the Fertilizer Limited Partnership (FLP).

“It’s at farmers’ fingertips,” he said. “They need to decide how much farmer participation they want in the project.”

Following the completion of a couple of major milestones over the summer months, including the Bankable Feasibility Study Friesen called “robust and compelling,” FNA representatives hit the road again to sell more Seed Capital Units (SCU) at town hall meetings including in Yorkton.

Friesen said the meetings have been very successful, with a high participation rate among those who attend, but FNA is still not reaching as many farmers as they would like.

“It’s very difficult to get farmers into the meeting room,” he explained. “Right now we’re asking farmers to talk to other farmers.”

He said there are third party investors standing by, but FNA wants to double the participation.

“The important message right now is the number of farmers and the number of acres they are responsible for,” he said.

Seed Capital Units are only available to FNA members, but for those not ready to join the organization, FNA is also accepting non-binding expressions of interest.

Those farmers who do join and invest, will not only receive a discounted price on fertilizer when the plant goes into production, Friesen said, but also have the potential to enjoy a significant return on investment when SCUs are converted to equity investment at a preferred rate the FLP currently expects to be on the order of two-to-one.

Friesen said substantial progress has also been made on a sales and distribution strategy including “supercentres” with full blending capacity and UAN liquid storage. The goal, he explained is to develop a network that will limit the trucking distance for most farmers to within 100 kilometres.

MNP LLP, the consulting firm FNA has engaged to assist in the design of the distribution structure will be coordinating focus groups this winter to get feedback on proposed supply agreements.

The 1.8 billion dollar plant will be built in western Canada at an undisclosed site Friesen said has been selected pending negotiations with provincial governments and completing environmental requirements.



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