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Brandt Inc. of Illinois acquires North Dakota-based Talc USA

Talc USA — a Page, North Dakota, company that makes talc products that lubricate crop seeds and can add various micronutrient products — has been acquired by Brandt Inc., of Springfield, Illinois, an agricultural retailer and maker of specialty ag products..

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Talc USA logo Courtesy / Talc USA
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PAGE, N.D. — An Illinois company has bought controlling interest in Talc USA, a North Dakota company that makes and markets talc-based products used to lubricate and add inputs with seeds through air-seeders.

Brandt Inc., of Springfield, Illinois, a retailer and manufacturer of specialty ag products, announced on Jan. 10, 2022, that it had “acquired” majority interest in Talc USA, of Page, North Dakota, as of Dec. 31, 2021. Terms of the sale were not disclosed.

Talc USA, which has “multi-millions in sales,” will retain its name and identity, will become part of Brandt’s Specialty Formulations business unit, and will operate under the direction of Bill Engel, Bradt’s executive vice president. All current employees — about a dozen — will be retained.

“I am excited about this transaction,” said Rick Brandt, president and chief executive officer of Brandt, in a statement. “Steve and Lori (Johnson) have built a terrific company that shares our values: We both believe in maximizing plants’ potential and increasing farmers’ ROI through good science, quality products and world-class service.”

Historically, Talc USA has sold its products through about 300 dealers throughout the U.S., including seed distributorships, cooperatives and John Deere dealers. Unlike most competitors who purchase talc products from India and China, Talc USA has its own manufacturing in the U.S.

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Talc USA was founded in 2008 by the Johnsons, who farm and are part owners of a pasta plant at Casselton, North Dakota. The company has grown to provide products to Canada, Mexico, Ukraine and South Africa. The company provides 100% talc products, as well as a “range of micronutrients, microbials and inoculants” that mix with the talc. The company has developed a proprietary mixing system that is simple for farmers to use.

Johnson, in a statement, said becoming part of Brandt makes the company “part of a global organization, providing certainty for our employees and enabling us to continue to grow the business and serve our farmer customers.”

Cory Hill, Talc USA’s chief operating officer, said the company’s products are primarily used in this region for corn and soybeans, sugarbeets, edible beans, but also in cotton and other southern crops.

Talc is used as a delivery mechanism for other products and to reduce static as well as wick moisture from planters to counter condensation in plastic tubes that deliver seed. Talc reduces “bridging” of seeds in the system, and reduces seeds sticking together when liquid seed treatments are used. It provides a more uniform seed spacing so each seed gets proper nutrition, he said.

“Not all farmers use talc, but all farmers should,” said Hill, who is also national sales director.

The products are either 100% talc or an 80/20 mix of talc and 20% graphite, which is used to extend the life of metal parts in planters. The products come in 10- and 20-pound containers.

Talc USA came up with a concept of blending micronutrients such as iron and manganese, designed to get young plants off to a quicker start.

Talc and talc graphite products add a cost of about 10 cents to 20 cents per acre, Hill said. The company’s own tests over five years indicate a 4.8 bushel per acre yield increase on corn and 3.8 bushels on soybeans.

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Hans Kandel, a North Dakota State University Extension Service agronomist, said he has done no testing and wasn’t aware of third-party research on how such treatments work in the larger environment or how they work across numerous field locations.

Hill said the seed treatment business is expected to grow exponentially over the next 10 years, with larger companies “jumping in line.”

Companies that became Brandt Inc. were founded in 1953 by Glen Brandt and his sister Evelyn Brandt Thomas. After military service, Glen started out at age 27 as a custom applicator for anhydrous ammonia and became known as a pioneer in the fluid fertilizer business. The company has grown under the leadership of Glen’s son, Rick Brandt, who joined the business in 1991, was named CEO in 1995, and has overseen the acquisition of 17 companies. It has 800 “associates.”

Separately, Rick also is CEO and owner of TradeMark Nitrogen of Tampa, Florida, a wholesale manufacturer, marketer and distributor of bulk commodities for industrial and agricultural customers. He has significant stakes in Precision Build LLC and Rev1 Energy.

Mikkel Pates is an agricultural journalist, creating print, online and television stories for Agweek magazine and Agweek TV.
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