American AgCredit looks to crop insurance for expansion

SANTA ROSA -- American AgCredit's recent acquisition of Petaluma-based Chris Maloney Crop Insurance Services represents a growing focus toward crop insurance in California, as the farm lender seeks to bolster its financial offerings to West Coast farmers.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Santa Rosa-based farm lender said the agency, founded by Chris Maloney in 1999, is one of the largest providers in California.

With the acquisition, AmericanAg Credit said it will add to the breadth of its financial services, which includes mortgage and operations financing, farm land appraisal and leasing.

"The ability to provide expanded services to agricultural producers is an important component of our business approach," Ron Carli, president and CEO of American Ag Credit, said in announcing the acquisition.

It's the second acquisition of a crop insurance agency for American AgCredit since 2011, the first being Fiorini & Squires Insurance Agency of Turlock, which represented the company's first foray into crop insurance in California, although it has always provided the service in Kansas and Oklahoma, according to Mike Phillips, vice president of insurance services.

The two acquired insurance agencies in California together hold about $10 million in premium volume, Mr. Phillips said, adding that American Ag Credit would likely continue to search for potential acquisitions throughout California.

"We will be strategically looking at agencies throughout the state," he said.

"I can say we started with virtually nothing when we started the process. We're now in excess of $10 million today in premium," in California, Mr. Phillips said. "We're excited about being in California and now the Bay Area, and look forward to working with producers growing crops."

All told, in Kansas and Oklahoma, American AgCredit's insurance business holds approximately $40 million in premium volume, Mr. Phillips said.

He added: "Our focus isn't so much in how big we grow the crop insurance product but how well we can support the lending department."

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