Content ID

320718

What FBN plans to do with $300 million

Company announces new funding round, partnership with ADM.

For Farmers Business Network (FBN), Thursday’s news was a very big deal.

It announced a $300 million round of funding – the company’s seventh - led by Fidelity Management and Research. ADM made an equity investment into FBN during the latest round, and also announced its intentions to expand its relationship with FBN.

It was a good day, says Charles Baron, FBN’s co-founder and chief technology officer, and the latest in a long line of newsworthy events.

In the last year, FBN has:

What will FBN do with the latest round of funding?

Charles Baron/Farmers Business Network
“We’re going to hire a lot of people,” Baron said in an interview with Successful Farming. The company plans to hire 300 people to work in its animal health, agronomy, and seeds sectors, plus support staff in warehouses and the corporate office. “We’re growing and hiring at a major scale. We have 800 people on staff now and looking to hire 300 more,” he says.

Adding human resources is critical to help the company accomplish other goals, he adds. They include:

  • Expanding the FBN Community Builder program with farmer-partners throughout the country. Community Builder provides local access to FBN goods and services through the direct-to-farm agriculture logistics network. “We have made huge strides in logistics, and we want to be world-class. When we can be as good as Amazon and Target at getting products to farmers at the exact time we say we will, with precise cost, that adds value,” Baron says.
  • Continuing development of new innovations in digital finance and insurance. “We want to continue to simplify how farmers apply and obtain loans and receive good interest rates,” Baron says. FBN also intends to develop more risk-management products (such as insurance) for its members, aiming to offer a suite of digital finance tools, plus simplify access for ag lending and insurance.
  • Expand products farmers can obtain through FBN, such as fertilizers and animal feed products. The partnership with ADM opens vast opportunities in that space, Baron says. “We’re very interested to explore how we can bring those to members in as transparent a way as possible.” The funds also will bolster FBN’s crop protection, seed breeding, biologicals, and robotics segments.
  • Support of FBN’s Gradable platform to measure and verify the carbon score of grain and other crops. With the Gradable platform, farmers can also connect with grain buyers who are looking to source low-carbon, higher-premium bushels.

Where ADM Fits

In a separate announcement Thursday, ADM and FBN have agreed to examine several areas of collaboration, including developing premium end markets for low-carbon grain that will reward farmers for the adoption of regenerative practices.

They will also explore working together to advance innovative technologies, like those currently offered through FBN’s Gradable platform, to improve access and data security for producers who market grain to ADM locations. Other areas of potential cooperation include:

  • Enabling FBN’s 30,000 farmers to conveniently sell grain to ADM’s extensive network of origination facilities with full digital transactional record keeping, sustainability tracking, and payments through FBN’s Gradable Platform;
  • Advancing research to develop new biologicals, seed traits, fertilizers, and crop protection products;
  • Enabling FBN farmers to conveniently and transparently purchase ADM products such as fertilizer and animal nutrition with FBN's leading e-commerce and finance platform;
  • Increasing farmer convenience and input product access by leveraging ADM's substantial physical distribution network for FBN farmers.

“Differentiated grain and sustainable solutions are two of ADM’s strategic growth platforms, and FBN is the perfect partner to help power our success as we work together to find new ways to cultivate incremental value for stakeholders across the food, sustainable solutions and agricultural value chain,” said Greg Morris, president of ADM’s Ag Services & Oilseeds business, in a statement. “We’ve already been working with FBN and producers to connect verifiable low-carbon crops with market demand, and now we’re excited to explore new areas of growth, from digital technology and analytics, to e-commerce, to shared infrastructure and geographical expansion.”

The partnership is a strategic move to help FBN's 33,000 members increase profit potential, said Amol Deshpande, FBN co-founder and CEO. In a statement, he said, "This partnership enables us to double down on putting farmers first by further investing in technologies that lower costs, improve transparency, and create local community development opportunities in rural areas." 

A Big Deal

That the latest round of funding was led by Fidelity Management and Research validates FBN’s mission, Baron says.

“Fidelity doesn’t invest in a speculative company. They’ve done their homework,” he says. “Fidelity is about as rock solid and long term as you can get.

“One of the criticisms of FBN is that we’re going out of business, or we’re going to be bought by someone. Gaining investors like this is great validation for the long-term,” he adds.

FBN’s business plan looks to the long-term – decades out, Baron adds.”We invest heavily right now, in building the infrastructure and platforms,” he explains, using FBN Community Builder, FBN Direct, and the genetics offerings as examples.

“To address the hard problems in agriculture, it takes money and time and we have to make those investments," Baron adds.

Read more about
Loading...

Tip of the Day

Driver for electric fence posts is helpful

Fence post driver from Mar '20 AATF I welded a steel cap and handle onto one end of a section of light-duty 1¼-inch angle iron and a footstep onto the other end. This lets me... read more

Talk in Marketing