Buenos Aires, July 22th. Born in the ‘80s in Chacabuco city, in the heart of the Argentinian’s Pampas, today Asociados Don Mario is becoming a world-class soybean seed developer company, which is landing in the US market after had consolidated its operation in the Mercosur countries.
Ignacio Bartolome is leading the US operation of GDM, the mother company, which involves more than a hundred people working and three experimental stations placed in Minnesota, Illinois, and Arkansas.
In dialogue with eFarmNewsAr.com, he describes the US soybean seed market 70% supplied by largest companies like Corteva, Bayer or Syngenta, while the remaining 30% is supplied by around 150 “independent companies”, with a regional approach and to licensing genetic from third parts in many cases.
“We have a goal and it is to achieve 6% of the national market to 2023, which implies to sell 6 million seed bag per year”, Mr. Bartolomé says. To reach this goal, Don Mario is going ahead based on the following strategy.
a) Developing a national brand to complement regional ones from independent companies. Last year they started an association with Burrus Seeds, and family-owned and operated seed company, based at Illinois. In the first campaign, Burrus sold 80,000 seed bags from Don Mario Seeds, mostly with Enlist and Xtend technology
b) Licencing genetic to the independent companies. Don Mario is one of the world largest soybean genetic developers. It estimates that one of five soybean grain commercialized around the world contains its genetic. In the US market, they are reproducing the successful strategy implemented in the Mercosur countries, i.e., license genetic for companies that they have not breeding programs. Also, they are trying to supply world-class companies with “something that they haven’t”.
c) Developing the co-branding in the conventional (non-GMO) channel. Don Mario launched Virtue Seeds, a company that offers non-GMO varieties to third companies that commercialize them with its own brand, but adding “powered by Virtue Seeds”. In the web, they explain that non-GMO seeds have a lower cost and that through a price premium, farmers improve the profit margin.
d) Acquiring or establishing JV with local companies. This March, Don Mario acquired 80% of Mustang Seeds, another family company based at South Dakota. “We prefer to talk about a JV because despite the family owns the remaining 20%, we decided that Mr. Terry Schultz continues leading the operation”, Ignacio explains to eFarmNewsAr.com.
He says that they are interested into developing the Mindaca market, a region that includes North and South Dakota, Canada, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. “We think that we have an advantage in this area because unlike Illinois or Iowa, soybean breeding programs arrived relatively late to this region. Farmers here are large and professionals and use Maturity Groups from 0 to II. We are enhancing our program in these groups”, Ignacio adds.
Mr. Bartolomé explains that they are targeting the “progressive and professional soybean grower”. They are using the field days to promote their genetic and using social networks and the web browser to market its products. They expect to conclude this year selling 550,000 bags and to reach 1.5 million next year, until to reach the target of 6 million bags in 2023.
Unlike the Argentinian market, soybean seed in the US market is protected by patent laws. “But despite this, farmers have the culture to recognize the intellectual property rights, and every year they pay the royalties and purchase certified seed”, Bartolomé opines. “It is the reason why the US market is a competitive one and farmers are able to choose between seven herbicide-resistance platforms, what they are RR1, RR2, Xtend, Xtend Flex (which will be launched next year), Enlist, Balance GT and LL, plus conventional genetic”, he explains.
The opinion of a farmer
A few months ago, we contact Mr. Riley Young, an agronomist and family farmer in Mendon, Missouri. In his farm, they row crop 500 acres mostly corn and soybeans with a small amount of winter wheat as well. “I really wanted to use the Don Mario genetics and products to give my yields a bump in the right direction. I do not have any issues using the liberty products and do not see any resistance as of now, but I wanted to change up my chemistry rotation and add another option as far as weed control. Glyphosate is not as effective on the broadleaf weeds but it is still used on the farm because it is still very effective on grass type weeds”, he told to eFarmNewsAr.com.
Riley also works as an account manager for Burrus Seeds. He highlights the fact that it is a family-owned and operated company, like the Argentinian Don Mario. “We choose Burrus because we like buying from a family-owned and operated business. I have had a great career with Burrus from when I graduated from college. Work for and with Burrus has helped me to increase yield and productivity on our farm. I simply enjoy working with and buying from a company that has my return on investment in their minds. They are farmers like myself and think from a farmer point of view”.