Flour power: Cargill, CHS join ConAgra to form milling powerhouse

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Two Minnesota agricultural giants teamed up more than a decade ago to create the country's biggest flour milling company. Now they're joining forces with ConAgra to create an even bigger company, which will be called Ardent Mills.

The companies say they're not planning to close any mills, which will give them 44 across North America, including five in Minnesota.

A Cargill spokeswoman tells the Associated Press, "It's not about getting bigger, it's about serving customers better." She says there are 25 major milling companies, keeping the industry competitive.

Inver Grove Heights-based CHS, the nation's largest farmer-owned co-op, and Wayzata-based Cargill already operate Horizon Milling. A site for the headquarters of the new joint venture has not been determined, but a Cargill vice-president tells the Pioneer Press the Twin Cities area, Kansas City, and Omaha are under consideration.

The AP says Horizon Milling has 1,400 employees, while ConAgra Mills has 1,000 workers.

According to Bloomberg, all three companies teaming up in the joint venture will receive $800 million to $1 billion when the deal closes.

The Pioneer Press reports Minnesota mills in Rush City, Hastings, Lake City, New Prague, and Mankato will be part of the new company.

The companies' announcement of the joint venture promises Ardent Mills will bring innovative flour products to the marketplace.

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