Acre Venture Partners Leads $20M Round for Farmers Business Network

August 10, 2016

Farmers Business Network Inc., the company behind the independent farmer-to-farmer network built to connect farmers and allowing for the sharing of data, insights, and information critical to agronomic decision making, has raised $20 million through its latest funding round, led by Acre Venture Partners.

Co-founded by agricultural entrepreneur and chief executive Amol Deshpande and vice president of product Charles Baron, Farmers Business Network (FBN) works to connect farmers with each other through an easy-to-use network that would make critical decision-driving information accessible to all farmers.

Through democratizing farming information, including access to manufacturer direct prices on inputs and real-world seed performance, the FBN network has grown to include 2,500 farms, cultivating nine million acres across 31 states over the past 20 months. Partially driving this growth is the fact that the FBN network has deviated from an “acre fee” system, which charges larger agricultural producers more, instead charging a transparent and uniform fee of $500 per year for network membership.

News of this round of funding follows close behind a $15 million round raised in May by Farmers Business Network led by Google Ventures, and including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and DBL Investors.

“Farmers have been advising each other for thousands of years. FBN gives them a platform to do so with real information on a massive scale, so they can make the most informed decisions. It’s about putting the farmers first,” said FBN co-founder Charles Baron in May.

“We created FBN to be growers’ advocate and to allow them to use information in fundamentally new ways, which helps them to be more profitable and thrive on their land,” Baron told GAI News.

FBN has also developed its FBN Procurement platform, which eliminates confusing tactics often employed by input vendors including bundling schemes, zone pricing, rebates, gifts, and loyalty programs. FBN Procurement works directly with manufacturers to source the lowest prices which it can then offer farmers. Fully transparent input prices are published online at all times and farmers are offered the choice of a cash and carry transaction or input financing options – creating a system that ensures farmers are buying the correct volume of inputs at the pest possible price.

“Giving farmers empirical data that they can use to make procurement decisions and bring to the conversation with suppliers ends up helping farmers save money, improve their margins and produce food more efficiently,” Acre VC Partner Gareth Asten told Tech Crunch.

After the 2016 launch of the company’s updated agronomic analytics, FBN Ops app, and Price Transparency system, Famers Business Network plans to expand its services nationwide across the U.S. over the rest of this year while also researching and developing new technologies that can raise the efficiency of farming operations. It will also use the fresh funding to support the expansion of the FBN team, to increase FBN exposure among farmers, and for expanding its platform to include a greater variety of crops.

“The FBN network creates a future for farmers that is independent, data driven, transparent, and fair with real competition for their business,” said Baron. “It all boils down to more profits for independent family farms and better outcomes for consumers.”

Lynda Kiernan

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