Agriculture Capital names asset management chief amid fundraise

The Equilibrium Capital affiliate is currently seeking $400m in support of a strategy focused on blueberries, citrus and hazelnuts.

darren fikens

The Equilibrium Capital affiliate is currently seeking $400m in support of a strategy focused on blueberries, citrus and hazelnuts.

Agriculture Capital has hired an executive to lead its internal asset management unit.

Darren Filkins joined AC’s California based-operations subsidiary as president at the beginning of May after previous stints with Fresh Choice Produce, Bolthouse Farms and other agricultural producers. His farming experience has included working in citrus, almonds, lettuce, carrots, tomatoes, alfalfa and other crops, according to a statement.

As president of AC’s asset management unit, Filkins will be responsible for Suntreat, AC’s citrus sales and marketing unit, and Tree Source Nursery, the firm’s citrus nursery. In addition, Filkins will also oversee all of the firm’s farming operations in California’s Central Valley and AC Food Legacy, a packing and shipping unit with activities in both Dinuba and Lindsay, California.

“The company’s vertical integration investment model creates an opportunity for seasoned operators, like me, to lead diverse teams with a shared commitment to excellence, accountability, transparency and stewardship,” Filkins said. “It exemplifies the kind of progressive agricultural company that I want to be associated with.”

An immediate focus for Filkins in his new role, according to the release, will be guiding efforts to introduce automated sorting and packing technology at AC Foods Legacy and increasing Suntreat’s acreage devoted to Sumo, Cara Cara and Blood Orange citrus varieties.

In May, AC – which previously referred to itself as Agricultural Capital Management – secured a $50 million commitment from the Ohio Police & Fire Pension Board for its ACM II Fund. The vehicle is seeking $400 million in support of a strategy focused on blueberries, hazelnuts and citrus.

The firm’s first fund, the ACM Permanent Crops Fund, surpassed its initial $200 million target before closing on $250 million in January 2015. Investors in that fund are known to have included Aether Investment Partners, the Maine Public Employees Retirement System and the Washington State Investment Board.

“The manager is one of the few agricultural investment firms to successfully bring together high-quality farming operations and successful agribusiness experience,” wrote The Townsend Group analysts, referring to AC, in a January report recommending a $50 million commitment to ACM II to the New Mexico State Investment Council. “The team has many years of experience growing the crops that the fund is targeting, and successfully executed its first funds strategy to date.”