Family farm seeking public investors
KENNEWICK, Wash. (AP) — A major Eastern Washington farm operation hopes to raise up to $48 million through a rare initial stock offering.
Taggares Agriculture, operated by descendants of Eastern Washington potato baron Peter Taggares II, seeks to launch a company to buy orchards and vineyards in the Northwest. The company plans to list on the Nasdaq exchange under the symbol TAG.
The Seattle Times reported that Taggares Agriculture would start by paying $30 million for a 3,200-acre apple and Concord grape property that is now owned by various members of the Taggares clan.
The company sees an opportunity to buy or lease additional land from farmers ready to retire. Its preliminary prospectus, filed Thursday, said it can “capitalize on the Taggares name, reputation and long-standing relationships in the farming community” and potentially pay landowners with its stock.
Investors in the initial public offering would own 69 percent of Taggares Agriculture, according to the filing. Another 26 percent would belong to Peter J. Taggares IV, the Kennewick-based company’s 31-year-old president and CEO.
A website for one of the extended family’s ventures recalls that Pete Taggares II, who died in 1999, “established himself as the largest farming operation in the state of Washington, based in Othello, and one of the largest producers of french fries in the United States.”
At one time that empire spanned 40,000 acres, which he marked “by painting all of his farm infrastructure white, from the buildings to the electrical poles,” according to the IPO filing.
The CEO’s father, Pete Taggares III, perhaps best known as a former University of Washington football player, will advise the company.
The extended family’s other business interests remain private, with holdings apparently centered in The P.J. Taggares Co., the newspaper said.
The stock offering comes on the heels of an IPO by Farmland Partners, a real estate investment trust that owns 7,800 acres of farmland and three grain silos in the Midwest. Farmland Partners priced its $53 million offering at $14 on April 16, but since then the shares have hovered between $13 and $13.50.
The attorney handling Taggares Agriculture’s IPO, Andrew Shawber, of Summit Law Group in Seattle, said he’s not aware of any similar transactions in Washington state.
The property Taggares Agriculture would buy from family members after the IPO is Snake River Vineyards, located in Burbank.
That operation had net sales of $7.7 million in fiscal 2013 and net income of $1 million, according to the filing.