AgTech Explores New Ways to Buy, Sell Grain

March 29, 2017 09:24 AM
AgTech Explores New Ways to Buy, Sell Grain

You can sell quite a lot of things on eBay – but you can’t sell corn and soybean bushels. You can sell them on a website called FarmLead, however. The online grain marketplace, which was started in Canada in 2013, hopes to expand significantly in the U.S. this year.

Southern Alberta farmer Hannah Konschuh says she has already made several transactions using FarmLead.

“We’ve added it to our regular checklist as we check grain prices and update our marketing plan,” she says. “We use it to diversify our marketing plan by opening ourselves up to other buyers.”

FarmLead CEO Brennan Turner, who grew up on a large family farm in Saskatchewan, says the website now serves about 4,000 farms across North America, with “tonnage traded” levels going up by about 200% or 300% every year. With the opening of a U.S. headquarters in Chicago, key staffing additions and an influx of $6.5 million in Series A funds led by Monsanto Growth Ventures, Turner hopes to get even more farmers on board.

“Every farmers should have the opportunity to showcase their grain to as many potential buyers as possible,” he says. “But trying to do that can be extremely tiresome.”

FarmLead hopes to change that, he says. The site is simple to navigate (either on desktop or via mobile app), there are no costs upfront for farmers to list their grain, and they’re seeing about 5% to 6% more value in marketing their grain online, according to Turner. There’s also a broad diversity of crops that are being listed – corn, soybeans, wheat, barley, canola, oats, hay, lentils, peas and more.

“We have no bias of the type of crop you grow,” Turner says. “We provide the secure environment to buy or sell the specific commodity you deal in.”

Kiersten Stead, investment director at MGV, points out that despite recent surge in other areas of agtech, there are still very few companies aimed at the commerce side of farming.

“FarmLead built a platform that can help farmers realize profits from day one and is a key part of a diversified approach to marketing and trading grain,” she says. “[FarmLead] enables an open marketplace that gives the industry more options and a differentiated advantage.”

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