March 13, 2013

Syngenta, the Switzerland agri-business company that bought Garst Seed Company of Coon Rapids in 2004, announced Tuesday that it will drop the Garst name from its hybrid seed-corn products next year.

The move comes less than two weeks after Syngenta said it will close its Coon Rapids seed-corn production and supply facility on Dec. 31, which will eliminate 31 local jobs.

Syngenta bought another seed company in 2004 - Golden Harvest - which is what the Garst seed will now be called.

"We respect the rich history and heritage of both the Garst and Golden Harvest brands," said Colin Steen, a Syngenta spokesman said in a press release. "But we're in a position now where we can better serve our customers by bringing them together under a single corn brand."

Garst family members could not immediately be reached for comment. Roswell Garst co-founded the Garst and Thomas Hi-Bred Corn Company in 1931, but the company later split in 1983, which created the Garst Seed Company.

Garst died in 1977.

The company said consolidating the brand names will "help streamline logistics, from packaging and ordering through inventory and delivery."

Syngenta says it will overhaul the names of its Garst and Golden Harvest seed corn varieties, and that it will create a guide for farmers who have used the brands to find the new name of the variety they plant now.

Syngenta posted more than $13 billion in sales in 2011 and employs about 26,000 people in 90 countries.

The planned shuttering of Syngenta's Coon Rapids seed-production facility will not affect its downtown Coon Rapids office, which employs about 20 customer-relations workers.

Syngenta officials decided to close the seed-production facility because it would cost too much to repair the aging building.

"This is a business decision and is not related to the plant's performance," Paul Minehart, a Syngenta spokesman has said. "Syngenta leadership understands the personal impact that the shutdown can have on Coon Rapids colleagues, their families and the surrounding community. That's why we are making this announcement now with nearly a year's notice so that employees have time to make plans for their future."