Building State of the Art

For many people, dogs and cats are like family, and there is a growing market for pet food that is as natural and nutritious as the food people eat. A new joint venture in South Carolina, financed by Farm Credit, is seeking to capitalize on the trend.

Poultry producer Amick Farms and pet food ingredient company 3D Corporate Solutions have teamed to build a state-of-the-art, flagship plant that will produce high-quality ingredients for premium and super premium pet food. Now under construction in rural Saluda County, west of Columbia, the plant is slated for completion in 2019 and each year will produce more than 100 million pounds of ingredients that will be sold and used in brand-name pet food.

“Across all generations, people want to feed their pets something that they would feel good eating themselves,” says Brad Riley, chief strategy officer for 3D Corporate Solutions. “That includes millennials who are having kids later in life than previous generations, and baby boomers who are now empty nesters. They see their pets as one of the family. This plant will produce ingredients that all people can feel good about feeding to their animals.”

Farm Credit takes a long view—and for all these reasons they’ve been very good partners.

Ben Harrison, president and CEO of Amick Farms, says building a new, dedicated facility from the ground up—rather than repurposing an existing plant—will help ensure the high quality that customers are looking for. “The state-of-the-art technology used throughout the entire plant is very innovative,” Harrison says. “From start to finish, this facility will produce a cleaner, safer product.”

Financing for the project is being provided by CoBank and two of its partners in the Farm Credit System, AgFirst and AgSouth Farm Credit. The three institutions combined to deliver a construction term loan and a working capital loan for the joint venture, dubbed SC Pet Food Solutions. Says Harrison, “We looked at several financing solutions and the Farm Credit group came to the table with the best opportunity from the beginning. All three of them have been lending to agribusiness since their inception. They understand the ups and downs of the business, and they’re supportive of it.”

Amick Vice President and CFO Marcus Miller agrees, adding, “Farm Credit takes a long view—and for all these reasons they’ve been very good partners.”