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Keeping up with agriculture: Alliance Ag Co-op’s new facility in Regent serves area ranchers, farmers

Press Photo by April Baumgarten The rock bearing Alliance Ag Co-op’s name, shown March 20 outside the store in Regent, is a testament to the business’s standing in the community. 1 / 3
Press Photo by April Baumgarten The convenience store is stocked with snacks, drinks and hot meals for travelers coming to Regent on the Enchanted Highway.2 / 3
Press Photo by April Baumgarten Shawn Meador, the Alliance Ag Co-op Convenience Store manager in Regent, looks over paperwork in his office. 3 / 3

REGENT — As agriculture changes, so must suppliers.

That’s what Alliance Ag Co-op General Manager Scott Smith of Hettinger said of the industry. An example of that change was the addition of the company’s agronomy center in Regent.

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“The agriculture industry is growing fast,” he said. “There are new products and new technologies.”

The agriculture supplier has been a part of the community since it opened shop in 1931 on Main Avenue, just a few blocks west of its current location. But as demand grew in the area, the company saw a need for a bigger facility.

Alliance Ag built the new building in 2009 on the northeast side of Main Avenue, making it one of the first buildings travelers see as they enter Regent along the Enchanted Highway. The $1.4 million store is hard to miss, but it provides a lot to the community, location manager Shawn Meador said.

The convenience store is fully stocked with food, snacks, drinks and tools. There is even seating for travelers that need to rest while they enjoy a meal, like hamburgers and fries.

What makes the store stand out is its outdoors feel, Smith said. The cabin-like wall on the east end is decorated with animal mounts, including deer antlers and the ever-abundant game bird of Regent — the pheasant.

“In the Regent area, pheasant hunting is popular,” Smith said, adding the company wanted to give the store a local feel.

A lumber yard and agronomy center is also at the disposal of farmers and ranchers. Fencing supplies, livestock equipment, anhydrous ammonia and seed is available at request, Meador said. And no convenience store is complete without diesel and gasoline pumps.

The benefit of having such a large agronomy center in Regent is felt through the area, Smith said. The closet is New England, with is approximately 25 miles away.

“It’s so convenient for the farmer,” Meador said. “That’s the nice thing about Regent. We have two anhydrous tanks. Otherwise, you would have to go all the way to New England or Richardton.”

The biggest problem is finding employees to keep up with the pace. The cooperative has 10 workers, Meador said.

But the store will do what it can to keep pace with the growing business of agriculture, he said, adding if farmers and ranchers need something, they will try to get it.

“(The industry) is getting bigger faster and we have to keep up,” Meador said. “It’s a good problem to have.”

April Baumgarten
April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, as the news editor. She works with a team of talented journalists and editors, who strive to give the Grand Forks area the quality news readers deserve to know. Baumgarten grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college,  she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.