Protect – License – Cultivate – Grow
A growing story in the not-too-distant future . . .
Hybrid wine grapes – a variety custom designed for your market. And you’ve got the exclusive – you own the PVP Certificate on the variety! This is why you’re back on the road making sales calls to growers. You don’t need many – only a handful of smart producers with an open mind and a willingness to see the vision. After 20 years, making sales calls should be second nature, but each visit has felt like going on a first date – the shaky-legged excess energy and giddy anticipation. The last two years of field trials on the variety have gradually ripened your optimism into genuine excitement! Now you can feel it in every fiber of your being – the possibilities for a reputable brand with your varieties! A brand built on genuine relationships with growers and customers! This must have been the way your Grandparents felt when they started the company so many years ago, right?
It’s only Tuesday, but you’ve already hit three States and put another 1,200 miles on the Silverado. Even though planting season won’t get really rolling for three more months, this is prime windshield time – and there will be more miles to travel than you can shake a stick at. You’ve licensed in some pretty impressive genetics this year – they looked downright beautiful in your test plots, and in the variety trials too. Your growers should be pleased with the yields, even with marginal weather. In any other year, your sales manager would be logging most of the hours on the road – not that they aren’t doing it anyway. But this year is going to be DIFFERENT. This year, you are laying the foundation for the company’s future.
You knew introducing a new variety – actually a new crop – would be challenging. Of course there would be some push-back. But who knew the countryside had so many closed-minded doubters?!? Doubters – hell, some of these folks are downright haters! Your sister even guffawed so hard at your description for a small wine grape cooperative she darn near passed out! And she is the company’s C.O.O. – the smart one – the one that is always fussing about cutting costs because the margins on seed sales keep getting smaller. It took a while to bring her around, but the vision is coming into focus for her – you just have to crystalize it.
The new grape variety is really just the beginning. You’ve made pretty decent progress on the production cost and revenue spreadsheets for three more specialty crops, all from the breeding program at Land Grant U. In the silence of the truck’s cab your mind wanders back to that fateful field tour with Dr. Leo, a plant breeder at L.G.U. Okay, your first impression was that Dr. Leo’s hybrid grape varieties would maybe, possibly, potentially, conceivably, imaginably might catch hold of a few hobby growers – but doubtful. But Dr. Leo is super nice, and darn sure persuasive. And persistent. It took him four trips to the company’s farm to get your sister on board with sponsoring the variety research in his program at L.G.U. His insight on consumer research was impressive and was probably what tipped the scales for her to give the “okay” to the sponsorship.
And there’s no denying that consumer tastes, they are a-changin’ – you’ve read many an article filled with words like fresh, local, clean, healthy, sustainable, seasonal, unique. Your new variety’s agronomics are solid, and the flavor profile is superb. Why shouldn’t we be trying to grow this stuff here and now?
Really, why shouldn’t we be developing new varieties, especially new crops? Your mind races through a long list of possibilities – crops that deliver more value from fewer acres, spreading risk across new products, diversifying revenue streams, new jobs to handle new products, more revenue flowing into the community. And great local flavor – why in the world wouldn’t we want that? These rural communities need fresh, new opportunities – even a blind fool can see that! Sure, bigger operations create economies of scale and spread out production costs, but we still need people and opportunities! We’re going to economies-of-scale rural America into one giant robot-controlled, drone-patrolled farming monoculture. Where’s the future in that?!? Okay, settle down. You’re teetering on your soap-box. And the speedometer says 88 M.P.H.
Of course the company will continue its primary pipeline of commodity seed genetics. There’s always going to be millions of commodity acres, and the company is well-positioned to serve its core market. But your Grandparents would scarcely recognize this business now. We focus so much effort on licensing, and reporting, and stewardship, and traits. And yield, always yield. Between perennial overproduction and industry consolidation, the company has precious few alternative paths. The company’s future down those paths is far less clear than it used to be. Slightly hazy would be a better way to describe it.
Yes – now’s the time. It’s time the company expanded its horizons and built its brand – its own brand – for the future. The new varieties are exciting, and this time, you own them! Agriculture is going to be fun again.
You ease the Silverado into the driveway of the last stop of the day. Otto is swaying in the glider on the screened-in porch, glass of wine in hand, gazing at the sunset. He’s smiling, and swings a big arm skyward, waving you up to the porch. You grab the variety spec sheet, a copy of the marketing plan, and step out into crisp air, tinged ever so slightly with the smell of smoke from a fireplace. The future starts here. Yes – this is going to be awesome!
Agriculture is home to some of the hardest, but most rewarding, enterprises on the planet. The risks and stakes are high – it takes determination, countless hours of planning and research, and sheer willpower to keep your enterprise on track season after season.
I’ve been practicing agricultural law for over 20 years, and I know first-hand the challenges of agricultural production and the businesses that keep the food supply moving. When I first started practicing law, growers were planting their first-ever genetically modified crops of soybeans and cotton. The pace of change and innovation in modern agriculture is stunning. New technologies show up almost daily – tracking farms, generating data, offering solutions to problems you didn’t even know you had. And all promise to make you more money.
Consolidation in the business is breathtaking – How do you compete against the new breed of consolidated global companies with portfolios of brands, inputs, data, and analytics? Agribusinesses and producers face more decisions than ever.
You need an attorney that understands your business and can help take the load off.
“Honest Success Does Not Cut Corners.
It’s the Result of Hard Work and Dedication.”
It’s the Result of Hard Work and Dedication.”
It also requires support – from business partners, family, friends, bankers – and a good lawyer. That’s where we come in.
We take pride in the work ethic learned on the farm – honest success doesn’t cut corners – it is the result of hard work and dedication. We bring that same integrity to our law practice.