It has been a season of changes! Cargill acquires Southern States feeds; Maryland Horse World Expo closes, merges everything into its Pennsylvania show; Maryland Horse Council acquires The Equiery – and in all the hubbub, we regret that we overlooked another significant piece of industry news: Triple Crown has a new manufacturing and distribution partner – Purina Mills. 

The corporate parent now known as Triple Crown Nutrition, Inc., was founded in 1989 and owns Triple Crown Feeds, as well as full line of forages, supplements and more. However, the company does not own feed manufacturing plants (also known as mills). The corporate parent now known as Triple Crown Nutrition, Inc., was founded in 1989 and owns Triple Crown Feeds, as well as full line of forages, supplements and more. However, the company does not own feed manufacturing plants (also known as mills). Triple Crown owns the formula, or recipe, and contracts with various mills to produce its feeds. Triple Crown owns the formula, or recipe, and contracts with various mills to produce its feeds, such as current partner, Blue Seal FeedsFor almost two decades, Triple Crown also partnered with Southern States, and it was common to see the product reps sharing a booth at Horse World Expo and elsewhere.  However, when Southern States Cooperative, Inc., divested itself of its animal feed division and the related mills, the Triple Crown contract did not convey.

Although Triple Crown will no longer be partnering with Southern States Animal Feeds, it will continue its manufacturing and distribution partnership with Blue Seal for manufacturing and distributing, in addition to working with Purina Mills. Blue Seal is produced in three Kent Nutrition mills, including one located in Hagerstown. 

Who is who in the Animal Feed???? 

Who is who in the feed game can sound like the old Abbott and Costello routine of “who’s on first, what’s on second.”  Cargill owns Southern States and Purina, but Land O’Lakes owns Purina, and Cargill owns Nutrena. Southern States doesn’t own Southern States but it sells Southern States. No one owns Triple Crown but Triple Crown, but Blue Seal makes Triple Crown. WHAAAAAA?????

Below is a combination FAQ sheet (“frequently asked questions”) combined with a “Who’s Who” type of playlist.

Will the Southern States stores now become Cargill stores?

No. Southern States Cooperative, Inc., still exists, it just divested itself of its animal feed business and related mills. The Cooperative, which is owned by more than 200,000 farmer-members (one of the largest ag cooperatives in the country) will continue providing fertilizer, seed, petroleum products, and more, and will continue with its 1,200 retail outlets in 23 states.  Some stores are owned by corporate, some are owned by local cooperatives, and some are independent dealers.

Will Southern States stores continue to sell Southern States Feeds and Triple Crown Feeds?

According to Cargill and Triple Crown, Southern States stores will continue to offer both Southern States branded animal feeds and Triple Crown.

Will Purina dealers start carrying Triple Crown?

According to Triple Crown, their first priority is their existing network of dealers, but they do intend to offer Triple Crown to Purina’s network of East Coast dealers.

Will Tractor Supply sell Triple Crown?

According to Triple Crown, there are no plans to sell via TSC.

So, now there are two companies called Southern States, just like there are two companies called Purina?

Yes. In 1986, Ralston-Purina sold off its U.S. livestock feed business (Purina Mills) to British Petroleum; it is now owned by Land O’Lakes. In 1998, Ralston-Purina, spun off its international livestock feed business as an independent company called Agribrands, which was then acquired by Cargill in 2001.

So…wait … Cargill owns BOTH Purina AND Southern States?

Yes…and no.  Cargill does not own Purina in the U.S., just internationally. In the U.S. Cargill owns Southern States livestock feed; outside of the U.S., Cargill owns Purina Mills livestock feed.

How is Nestle involved?

After divesting itself of its national and international livestock feed businesses, Ralston-Purina was primarily a pet food company, and as such it was acquired by the Swiss company Nestle in 2001. These are the Purina brands you see sold in mainstream retail stores and through small animal veterinary practices. Purina horse feeds sold through Purina dealers are manufactured by a different company, Purina Mills, owned by Land O’Lakes.

So who is Land O’Lakes?

Like Southern States Cooperative, Inc., Land O’Lakes is a farmer-owned cooperative. It was founded in Minnesota as a creamery cooperative, and is best known for its butter products; like Southern States, it has grown to be a diverse ag operation.

Who is Cargill?

Well, that is a more complicated question. The short answer is that, according to the September 5, 2017 edition of Forbes, Cargill (which also owns Nutrena Horse Feeds) is the largest privately-held corporation in the United States. The long answer is that it is a massive, massive company. According to Fortune Magazine: “Numbers alone don’t begin to capture the scope of Cargill’s impact on our daily lives. You don’t have to love Egg McMuffins (McDonald’s buys many of its eggs in liquid form from Cargill) or hamburgers (Cargill’s facilities can slaughter more cattle than anyone else’s in the U.S.) or sub sandwiches (No. 8 in pork, No. 3 in turkey) to ingest Cargill products on a regular basis. Whatever you ate or drank today — a candy bar, pretzels, soup from a can, ice cream, yogurt, chewing gum, beer — chances are it included a little something from Cargill’s menu of food additives. Its $50 billion “ingredients” business touches pretty much anything salted, sweetened, preserved, fortified, emulsified, or texturized, or anything whose raw taste or smell had to be masked in order to make it palatable. And there is more! Soybeans, sugar, palm oil, cotton, salt, crop insurance, river barges – and product movement. 

Any other chocolate players?

Nestle is not the only chocolate company in the animal feed game. Of course, you would expect Jacqueline Mars, one of the equestrian community’s most important benefactors, to own a horse feed company, wouldn’t you? Her family company, Mars. Inc., is (according to Forbes) the 6th largest privately held company in the U.S. In addition to candy, Mars owns a variety of pet and animal food companies, including (but not limited to) Eukanuba, Iams, Pedigree and Royal Canin.  Mars also owns the vet hospital chains Banfield and, as of 2017, VCA, Inc.  In 2005, Mars, Inc. acquired Buckeye Feed Mills.

Are there any small, independent feed manufacturers left?

Yes! But that sort of depends upon your definition of small and independent! Triple Crown could be considered a small and independent feed manufacturer that has partnerships for manufacturing and distribution. Locally, we also have Blue Seal Feeds in Hagerstown, and several mills offering house and custom blends, including Farmers Cooperative Association, Inc., (based in Frederick, delivering throughout central Maryland, Stauffer’s Feed Mill (Leonardtown, serving Southern Maryland) and The Mill (with 5 locations in north east Maryland).  Daily Dose Equine, LLC, founded in Maryland in 2005, sells primarily directly to the client, although it now has a retail location in Libertytown.