Taylor Farms will be sold to a new buyer for $5.3 million, its owners said Friday, bringing to $8.5 million the total of buyouts since it was acquired in December.
The move to close the deal is expected to close by the end of the week.
Taylor Farms is owned by the family of former Toronto mayor David Miller, who is chairman of the new buyer.
The farm is also a major shareholder in a company owned by former Ontario premier Mike Harris that has also been under review for possible takeover.
Taylor is one of three farms in the region that are owned by Harris’ family.
It produces about 40,000 tonnes of beef annually, according to the farm’s website.
The new buyer, New York-based T.M. Harris, is focused on growing meat, dairy and egg producers in the eastern U.S. and the U.K. Harris’ brother, Peter, is a major investor in other Canadian dairy farms.
The Harris family also owns Canadian beef producer Tyson Foods Inc., and it owns a major stake in another company, United Natural Foods Ltd.
Harris said in a statement that it was a difficult decision to sell Taylor Farms, but that it had a strong focus on growth and that he had been “very pleased” with the new owner.
Toms decision to close was announced by Taylor’s co-owner, Dan Taylor, in a blog post.
“The farm has a long history of growth, with more than 10 years of excellent growth in our first three years,” he said.
“We want to take our farm forward to become a destination for those looking for a family farm and for local families in Toronto.
We are confident in our ability to deliver this vision.”
The farm’s last owners, Brian Taylor and the late John Miller, died in October.
Miller died in March at age 84.
Miller’s wife, Margaret, died of cancer in April.
“T.M.,” as the new owners call themselves, has owned a major dairy company in Canada since 2011, including the St. Lawrence Valley Dairy Co., which is owned and operated by a Toronto-based company called Dairy Queen.
The St. Louis-based Canadian dairy company is owned primarily by the Miller family.
“In recent years, we have worked with a group of strategic partners to explore a potential sale of T.m.,” the new buyers said in the statement.
“These parties have made it clear to us that they have no interest in any potential transaction.”
Taylor said the farm has more than doubled its sales since the acquisition in December, adding that sales were up by about 10 per cent for this fiscal year.
The deal was expected to be finalized by the close of business Friday.
The sale of Taylor Farms has been met with criticism, particularly from environmentalists who believe the farm should not have been acquired.
“It is important to note that the current owner is a family that is deeply connected to the food chain,” said Greenpeace Canada spokesman Andrew Neumann.
“They are directly impacted by the continued impact of climate change, and have been known to be deeply concerned with the impacts of the massive expansion of farm production in Canada over the past 40 years.”
The company, he added, has long been a major player in Canada’s beef industry, but “this deal does not improve the situation.”
The Harris’ farm is one example of how farm consolidation has transformed Canada’s food supply, and how many farms have closed in recent years.
In the United States, where the industry has grown more rapidly than anywhere else in the country, the number of farms that have closed has tripled since 2000, according, to a report by the University of California, Davis, Center for Food Safety.
Farmers and ranchers are increasingly moving to other places, including Quebec and New Brunswick, which have seen a boom in small farms, as the food supply increasingly shifts from grains to meat and dairy.
Canada is not the only country that has seen consolidation.
“There’s been a lot of consolidation in agriculture over the last 15 years,” said Andrew Sacher, a professor at the University in Ottawa who studies agricultural economics and policy.
“That’s a problem.
It’s going to take time to reverse it.”