By TIM THORNBERRY, Kentucky Correspondent, Farm World
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — State Agriculture Commissioner James Comer recently paid a visit to one of Kentucky’s most diversified agricultural businesses. Caudill Seed Co., founded by Forrest Caudill in 1947, has grown to be one of the nation’s largest suppliers of seeds and related materials for planting purposes.
Today, the business is owned and operated by his sons, Pat and Dan Caudill. The company received one of the inaugural Kentucky Proud Partner in Excellence Awards in March, something Comer recognized during his visit and tour of the Louisville facility.
“Caudill Seed is a great Kentucky Proud business,” he said. “It also is a major Kentucky employer, with four operations in the Commonwealth. We felt Caudill Seed’s culture of innovation, excellence and dedication to Kentucky made it more than worthy of a Kentucky Proud Partner in Excellence Award.”
Kentucky Proud is the state’s official farm marketing program and the awards are given in recognition of commitment to the growth and sustainability of agriculture in the state, according to Jennifer Mueller, director of Business Development for the program.
Pat Caudill, who serves as company president, accepted the award from Mueller during the Sweet 16 Basketball Tournament at Rupp Arena in Lexington on March 15. “I would like to thank the Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Commissioner James Comer for this award,” he said. “We believe Kentucky Proud is an investment in Kentucky’s land, people and its future. We urge all Kentuckians to buy Kentucky Proud products at every opportunity.”
The company, which primarily serves the agricultural, turf seed, contractor supply and reclamation industries, has operations in Louisville, Allen, Winchester and Morehead, and in Granite, Okla. It has expanded and diversified to encompass many areas and is now anything but just a seed company.
Caudill Seeds products help reclaim former mining sites for use in building, farming and other purposes. For those who have visited a ballpark or area golf course, they have likely walked on turf started by seed from the company.
Farmers have used their products for years, including feed, cover crop grains, forage seeds, fertilizers and baler twine, just to name a few. Gardeners have known their products for decades, but Caudill also offers a line of pest control products, as well as ice-melting pellets. If there is a common thread, Caudill products are created to make the environment better or help those who tend to the environment.
Caudill also began Whole Alternatives, a co-pack and private label packager of organic and natural products. That part of the business began in 1985 at the dawn of the organics movement. Today, it packages a wide variety of products, including popcorn and macaroni and cheese, and does so well – Caudill has been recognized by industry experts for its commitment to food safety not only for its Whole Alternatives operation, but for other subsidiaries, as well.
Caudill Sprouting is the premier source for safe, quality sprouting and microgreen seeds and supplies, according to information from the company. The company is a member of the Institute for Food Safety and Health at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
CS Health explores the benefits of broccoli and applies it research to the development, manufacture and distribution of dietary supplement products, cosmeceuticals (an industry term referring to cosmetic products that have medicinal or drug-like benefits) and food additives. Both this and Caudill Sprouting are examples of Caudill’s continued efforts to diversify and grow the company in a quality way.
Earlier this year the company received an “A” grade certification from the British Retail Consortium (BRC), a certified body for the Global Food Safety Initiative, for its Caudill Sprouting, CS Health and Whole Alternatives subsidiaries.
“We are very proud to have become the first sprouting seed company in the industry to receive BRC certification back in 2010. Also, this is the first A-rated certification to be provided to a sprouting seed supplier in North America,” said Fred Kapp, corporate director of Quality Assurance for Caudill Seed.
He also said it is quite an achievement to reach this status and the company was one of the first to push for organic foods and seeds. In a quiet manner, Caudill has built a business that in some form or fashion has touched most people in some way, be it through food or products to create food, as well as through its forage products.
Kapp said its latest growth is in natural foods that are packaged such as boxed pastas or oatmeal and cereals, in individual servings to address a growing need in the market.