“Farm Credit, they understand what it takes to do agriculture lending." -Ben Bennett
Missouri Northern Pecan Growers is a pecan sheller and LLC comprised of certified organic pecan contracted growers. Missouri Northern Pecan Growers processes, markets and distributes northern pecans across the country, as well as Canada and Europe, in their modern 40,000 square-foot facilitiy in Nevada, Missouri. They have 50 organic growers providing pecans to the business and the vast majority of their pecans are organic.
Ben Bennet is the production manager at Missouri Northern Pecan Growers but also operates a diversified row and livestock farm in addition to growing pecans. “We started this business to try and develop local markets for the native pecan and just create a value-added product by doing our processing and marketing,” Ben Bennett said.
A niche market
Joe Wilson, co-owner of Missouri Northern Pecan Growers, was a founding member of the business. “For us at Missouri Northern Pecan Growers, we are the only sheller that does native organic pecans, which is kind of our niche market,” Joe said.
What makes Missouri Northern Pecan Growers is unique all the pecans they shell and market are organic. They were the first pecan grower in Missouri to have organic accreditation. Because all of their pecans are grown organically, they are considered American Native Pecans, which are smaller in size but have more natural oil content providing an enhanced sweet taste.
Striving for sustainability
Since its inception in 2000, the business' goal is to provide a natural product beneficial to both consumers and the environment. All the trees raised by their growers are unaltered by man and usually planted by natural occurrences, such as weather and wildlife. This natural occurrence allows the pecans to grow in a way that enhances the flavor.
According to Drew Kimmell, owner at Missouri Northern Pecan Growers, there's nothing more sustainable than growing native pecans. "When it comes to sustainability, I honestly think there isn't anything in the U.S. that is as sustainable as these trees," Drew said.
In fact, according to Drew, there are trees within the pecan groves of his county older than when George Washington was president.
A lenders support
Missouri Northern Pecan Growers continues to grow its operation with support from its lending partner, FCS Financial. For about three years, FCS Financial supported their business as they continued to grow and buy more real estate and equipment to shell more pecans.
"You have to find a good lender you can trust," Ben said. "We've had really good luck with Farm Credit. It's been one of the biggest keys in being where we're at."
In addition to working with FCS Financial through the Missouri Northern Pecan Growers, Ben and Joe are both Farm Credit customers as individual farmers. “I think Farm Credit understands the ebb and flow of agriculture and that we don’t have a good crop every year,” Ben said. “Farm Credit, they understand what it takes to do agriculture lending."