WASHINGTON, July 6, 2016 – Cargill Inc. has agreed to sell its 18 ag-retail outlets in the U.S. to Calgary-based Agrium Inc., the largest retail seller of crop inputs in North America. The outlets, located in Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, Indiana and Michigan, have annual revenues of over $150 million, Agrium said in a release.

The transaction, which does not include Minnesota-based Cargill's Canadian crop input retail business, is expected to close by the end of the third quarter of 2016.

"This acquisition (by Agrium’s Crop Production Services unit) demonstrates our continued focus on growing our North American Ag-retail business, particularly in the highly desirable U.S. Corn Belt. The locations are in regions where we currently have a limited presence,” said Chuck Magro, Agrium’s president and CEO. "We welcome the Cargill ag-retail employees to the Agrium family and are excited to bring our agronomic expertise and quality products and services to growers in this important agricultural region."

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Roger Watchorn, group leader of Cargill's North American agricultural supply chain, said Cargill will focus on being the world's leading merchant of grain and oilseeds. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to help farmers succeed by ensuring they remain competitive in the global market and being as efficient as possible in getting products from origins to destinations,” he said.

While Cargill has been trimming some of its lower-margin operations in the face of slumping commodity prices, Agrium has been seeking to expand its retail business in the U.S., Magro told the Reuters news agency in May. The company bought 27 U.S. retail locations in the first quarter.