Leon Bird has a vision. He pictures a seed company where farmers not only buy the seed- they also make the decisions. Which way the company goes in the future would depend upon what the farmer owners identified as their needs.
In a world of mega-mergers and various alliances of one form or another, it's unique to see a seed company seeking grass levels input so strongly that it offers ownership to farmers. The company offered 'limited liability units,' with each unit costing $10,000. Enough farmers are already on board to get the new concept off the ground.
Bird Hybrids was already operating as a small seed company, based in Tiffin, Ohio. The focus of Bird Hybrids LLC is selling seed on a wider basis, including Indiana and other states.
Agreements between Syngenta and Pioneer last year actually make it easier for small companies to access state-of-the-art genetics and various high-tech traits that farmers might want, Bird says. Pioneer now offers access to many inbred lines to independent seed companies.
"We'll let the farmers decide which traits they want us to pursue," Bird says. It's clear that he's serious when he says that this will be a farmer-driven company. Depending upon the number of investors, it's possible that investors could own up to 70% of the company.
"That means farmer investors could fire us if we don't do a good job," Bird says. Part of his vision was giving farmers an actual say in how the company operates, not in name only.
You don't have to be an investor to buy seed from Bird Hybrids LLC, Bird says. The company is stepping up sales and marketing efforts so that they can achieve the wider distribution of sales that they envision.
Joining Bird in this new venture is Dave Nanda, former director of research for Stewart Seeds, Greensburg, Ind. Stewart Seed was purchased by Monsanto in 2005. Nanda has roughly 40 years of experience in the corn breeding business, and has developed many original genetic lines over the past 17 years at Stewart Seeds.
Nanda sees this as an opportunity for farmers, he notes. And it will allow him to do what he loves- do research on corn and stay in tune with farmers at the same time. Nanda will be located in Indianapolis.
Mark Borden, New Castle, also joins the new company in the sales arena. He's a well-known seed salesman in east-central Indiana.
Dan Dorney, an independent researcher based near Paris, Illinois, has assisted Bird Hybrids in the past. He will also be a player in Bird Hybrids LLC. Besides continuing research, Dorney will sell corn, soybeans and wheat in Illinois and Iowa.
To learn more, call (800) 743-2473 or visit: www.Birdhybrids.com.