Farmers Business Network a "game changer" in ag data revolution

Farmers Business Network co-founder Charles Baron talks to Don Cantrell of Merna, who was the second customer in the company's history (NTV News)

Farmers harvest in the new frontier, collecting data to drive decisions and profits.

Before Farmers Business Network was the hottest start-up in agriculture, it started with a simple concept that data from the farm is worth more, when producers can see others are doing.

“By aggregating data over all those acres we can help farmers find what seed to plant, what a fair market price is for seed and chemical, they can see when a seed is sold for multiple companies for different prices, a practice called relabeling,” said Charles Baron, FBN co-founder.

Baron brought the idea to Don Cantrell of Merna, who thought they were on to something, but never expected this.

“It's just a shock what all it's doing. Really leveling the playing field for farmers,” Cantrell said.

Every pass through the field during planting and harvest collects information, and combined across 29 million acres, the value grows.

“My data's just my data. How much more valuable would it be if I know how everyone else is doing in similar and different situations,” said Illinois farmer Chris Gould.

Farmers Business Network allows producers to compare prices, and also buy inputs from the company itself.

Clay Govier of Broken Bow says he uses it as leverage, shopping around, buying some inputs from FBN and buying some products locally, saving money.

Govier said, “This isn't the time in agriculture when you're hitting home runs, but you needs to hit singles and doubles once in a while. It's the nickels and dimes where you're making money.”

The company has expanded into the seed business, with generic versions of name brand seed.

FBN has secured hundreds of millions in investment from the likes of Google and others. And as Google has changed our lives, some see FBN having that impact in agriculture.

Chris Gould believed that from the first he heard of it.

“This is going to be a game changer to the seed and input industry and I think I was right. I think it is a game changer,” he said.

From a launch party in Kearney in 2015, to gatherings of thousands of farmrers, and growing.

“Ready to hit it for 2019,” said Baron, the co-founder.

This week at its Farmer 2 Farmer conference, Baron announced FBN’s next project is to offer health insurance for the farm.

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