How to Open a Fertilizer Distributor Company

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Fertilizer companies are part of the larger agricultural industrial landscape. Many people do not realize how important fertilizer companies are to farming and other forms of agriculture. There are a variety of money-making opportunities available in the fertilizer industry for the dedicated entrepreneur.

Fertilizer and Agriculture

It has been said that agriculture is the cornerstone of the American economy. This is completely valid, especially when you consider how many people are employed through farming-related industries, including the fertilizer industry.

Agriculture, by its very nature, requires fertilizer. Fertilizer, particularly organic fertilizer such as manure or compost, is making strides not only in the agriculture industry but in general use. Everyday Americans are becoming more eco-minded: Installing compost piles, gardens and even butterfly-attracting flowers are all becoming more popular. Smaller customers are low-hanging fruit in many areas, as most fertilizer companies work with large farms or require people to come to them to fill the bed of a truck.

Choose Customers Wisely

When starting a fertilizer business or a series of fertilizer distribution companies, it is important to consider what sort of customers you want to cater to. One of the most important things about starting any business is determining your target market. Do you want to serve only large commercial farms, or would you prefer working with smaller, individual entities?

To run a successful business, you must focus on gaps in service. Choosing your primary customer group will require a lot of market research to pinpoint the gaps in service in your area. This is particularly true when you are a new business and are working to gain a foothold in an industry. Perhaps your goals are strictly commercial farming, but you have too much competition. This means that you need to have a clear business plan that takes you from smaller markets into larger ones.

Organic Fertilizer Companies

Organic food farms are growing in popularity, and these farms all require organic compost. Perhaps your business could focus on this and gain traction via word-of-mouth. In Midwestern cities, for instance, there is an enticing combination of small farms and gardens that could become loyal customers of this sort of business.

There are various sources for organic fertilizer. Mineral-sourced fertilizer is made from minerals such as peat, and other types of organic fertilizer are built upon organic food wastes, plant material or biosolids (sewage).

Another benefit of organic fertilizer companies is that they may be eligible for grants from donor agencies or the government. To find out if you are eligible you should be able to access municipal grants, then state, federal government and finally private donors.

How to Open an Agriculture Fertilizer Business

When you are working in anything that has a biocomponent, you need to make certain that you have all the required documents and certifications. Because every region is different, you should research at a variety of levels:

  • Municipal: This is your local government, including city, county or other small-scale regulating bodies that you need to report to. 
  • State: On top of local governments, your specific state may have regulations that you also need to follow. These regulations could include the density of similar businesses and licensing issues.
  • Federal: Typically, states go above and beyond federal regulations. However, you need to make sure of this before you settle on procedures. You should also keep an eye to the future when planning your business practices, because regulations are always subject to change. 

Getting a Fertilizer Shop License

Fertilizers can offer numerous benefits for plant life; this makes them extremely important to the agriculture industry. However, if fertilizer is used or stored without the proper safety precautions in place, it can pose a serious threat to human health, animal health and the general health of the surrounding environment.

The risks ring true for every type of fertilizer because, at its core, fertilizer is a decomposing material. The process of decomposition creates gasses and byproducts that can cause drinking water to be contaminated. This contamination will then continue to spread to fish, plants and animals in the surrounding area.

Because poorly stored fertilizer can easily contaminate whole ecosystems, every individual state has regulations for their storage. If you intend to have a large fertilizer company, you will need to understand and can comply with every standard of the states you want to expand to. This could result in different operating procedures among states.

Obtaining a Commercial Applicator License

Federal laws require that any person who supervises or applies Restricted Use Pesticides (RUPs) be certified in accordance with Environmental Protection Act (EPA) regulations. They also need to be certified in accordance with state, territorial and any existing tribal laws. Most of the time, federal laws are the least strict, while local laws are the most stringent.

If you choose to operate in any tribal lands, you must agree to obey all tribal regulations and laws. In an instance where you are dealing with NDN tribal lands, those tribal laws can replace federal laws as the United States treats these areas as fully autonomous governing bodies.

Certifications for Fertilizer Sales

To legally operate your fertilizer company, you will need to be certified in every state that your company operates. If your company is small, this is less of a problem than it is for wider-reaching companies. If you are operating a franchise, then you will need to make sure that the parent company has the appropriate certifications for your area.

To get all of the information that you need, you can contact the certifying agency. Almost all states have a Pesticide Safety Education Program. Contacting this program for your state or territory will give you all of the information that you need. To get information, training and study materials for Indian country, you should contact the EPA about the Federal Certification to Apply Restricted Use Pesticides in Indian Country.

The EPA and Fertilizer

EPA regulations (40 CFR Part 171) establish the minimum standards of handling and competency for pesticide applicators. They also apply or supervise the use of RUPs. The EPA has oversight over all moving parts regarding the certification programs.

Business Plan Ideas for a Fertilizer Company

After getting an idea of what certifications you will need, you can then sit down and write up a basic business plan. The most important part of starting your business is understanding what capital you have and where you see the company going. General wisdom says that you should start small and get solvent before moving on to larger ventures.

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About the Author

Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She has been writing on business-related topics for nearly 10 years. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com) and she works with a number of small businesses to develop B2B content for their websites, social media accounts, and marketing materials. In addition to this content, she has written business-related articles for sites like Sweet Frivolity, Alliance Worldwide Investigative Group, Bloom Co and Spent.