Pacific Forage Bag Supply
Maybe you’ve seen them around. The long, white plastic bags filled with silage, lying atop farmers’ fields. If you frequent the country side, chances are, you have. For a lot of farmers, tower silos are a thing of the past; many that still stand in farm yards are empty.
To be honest, they’re not particularly glamorous; in fact, they look like big white worms. But Ag-Bags, as they’re called, are anything but unsophisticated, even if they look it. Alexis Arthur calls them “a complete science.” Arthur is the co-owner of B.C.-based Pacific Forage Bag Supply, a family-owned company that sells everything farmers needs to set up their very own Ag-Bags, from machines and bags, to inoculants and corn seed. Arthur says these bags are the future in the agriculture industry. And she would know.
Arthur comes from a family who is immersed in farming. Her father, Bryan Arthur, who formed the company, was born on a dairy farm (as was Alexis) and worked as a herdsman in the 1950s. From there, he was selling and delivering hay to dairy farms. But the industry changed, and Bryan started in the Ag-Bag business in the late 1990s.
“My dad could not sell hay and make the money he did back then,” says Arthur, who joined the company in 2004. “People don’t feed animals with bushels of hay anymore. The whole practice of what we feed animals has changed completely. Now, you feed them what comes out of a bag or bunk, which is called silage; it’s mixed with hay and grains and amendments. Farmers spend a lot of time and money on developing their feed rations for animals. There is probably more science about what goes into a cow’s belly to make milk than what goes into our bellies; these days, cattle has a more balanced diet than we do!”
So how does it work?
The Ag-Bag® system eliminates the problems of traditional storage. The exterior white layer repels solar heat and keeps contents cooler. The black inner lining keeps out sunlight and preserves valuable nutrients. With UV inhibitors to resist sun damage each bag is built to last two years in rugged weather conditions.
The airtight environment prevents growth of aerobic bacteria, molds and insects. It eliminates the need for dangerous chemicals and fumigants. At the same time, it enhances the benefits of cool fermentation with optimal levels of lactic acid and without damaging heat build-up. The result is an easily digestible and highly nutritious feed that livestock prefer, providing higher production without expensive feed supplements.
The Ag-Bag system puts unlimited, low-cost storage capacity where farmers want it and need it. Bags can be placed for convenient access allowing feed to be removed with a front-end loader or be self-fed. Ag-Bags store a wide variety of feeds, grains, crop residues and by-products. Feed rations can be blended and balanced. The low investment cost can significantly raise profit margins.
Keeping customers happy
To Arthur, Pacific Forage Bag Supply’s success is due to her father’s intense work ethic and experience. “He has a vast knowledge of agriculture and dairy cattle, specifically,” she says. “And he will just work 48 hours in a row if that’s what it takes to get the job done and keep the customer happy.”
“Good customer service is key in this industry,” Arthur continues. “A lot of people will do business online or by phone, but for us, we go onto the farm and deal with farmers face-to-face. We drive onto their yard, get out of the truck and find out about how they do things.”
Once the Pacific Forage Bag Supply wins a client, they maintain the relationship during the high and low seasons. “Things go wrong at the worst times,” laughs Arthur. “When you’re dealing with farmers and their machinery, there are two high seasons: spring and fall, and that’s when machines break down.
That’s when everyone needs their plastic or inoculant, and they need it right then. You have to be able to supply it and get that machine fixed. And we do that. We never say ‘it’s not our problem’. We work until they are up and running, so they can get the feed in and ensure they don’t lose time and money.”
Of course having a top-of-the-line product doesn’t hurt either. “One of the things that works in our favour is we’re the regional Ag-Bag dealer,” Arthur explains. “The machinery is high quality and we stand behind the product.”
Down the road
As far as the future goes, the Arthurs have it all planned out. While Pacific Forage Bag Supply is a regional dealer and can’t go beyond its jurisdiction, the company can work on improving the company and maybe getting new clients in the area. “New business is difficult because agriculture is shrinking,” says Arthur.
And that’s what they came up with a second company called Prairie Pacific Corn Seed. The second operation sells seed to grow the corn that eventually ends up in cattle feed. “We sell it across western Canada,” says Arthur. “With Prairie Pacific Corn Seed, we’re looking to grow in British Columbia, as well as become a more of a contender in the prairies. We work hard to service our community for Pacific Forage Bag Supply, but long term, it’s the seed company we want to push forward.”
With their farming experience and business acumen, it sounds like the Arthurs can expect many more years of success.