A recent article in Forbes discusses the efforts of a Silicon Valley startup to attempt to assist America’s small farmers – who knew that there were startups in Silicon Valley that actually did something useful! The new start-up has begun the Farmers Business Network to attempt to assist small farmers in mining the important data out there to assist in their farm management processes.
The article tells the story of Mark Gath’s 10,000 acre farming operation near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Gath manages his farmland with the help of his wife and their two sons. He admits that he feels squeezed by low commodity prices and the rising costs of seeds, pesticides and equipment. “Everyone is scared out here,” he is quoted as saying. It is because of a serious need to “get a handle” on commodities, seed prices and a myriad of farming operations and necessities that go into successful farming, that Gath signed up immediately when he heard of the nominal fee that was charged for the services of the Farmers Business Network. The Network has built a network of more than 6,500 farms to which it offers information, an online store and marketing help – all with the goal of making farmers more profitable. The company was initiated by CEO Amol Deshpande and Charles Baron (who, in 2006, spent a harvest working on his brother-in-law’s farm in Nebraska). After joining Google as a program manager and getting his MBA from Harvard, he kept visiting the farm and was astounded at how much information was inaccessible. He then met Deshpande in 2011 who was then a Kleiner Perkins partner focusing on agriculture. And, the rest, as they say, is history. ALL THE MOVING PARTS – it’s certain that farmers and their families need better ways to facilitate the excellent inner-workings of all those moving parts!