There is a new alternative for Western Canadian farmers looking for new markets for their grain. Farmlead.com promises to help facilitate connections between buyers and sellers.
Farmlead.com is the brainchild of Brennan Turner, who based its design on similar programs currently being used successfully in Australia. The online resource allows buyers and sellers of a large range of agricultural commodities — not just wheat and barley — to find each other and make a deal. It’s not something that has traditionally been an easy thing to do.
“It’s an equal playing field now and everyone has the option to market themselves and it’s a matter of finding the most ideal counterparty to get the right products or price,” says Turner. “But a guy that lives across the border in North Dakota is not necessarily going to know that a guy in Richler, Manitoba has the feed barley that he’s looking for. There’s an obvious disconnect there.”
Brennan seeks to bridge that disconnect with an innovative platform that allows individual farmers to market products to a large group of buyers and sellers, simply by posting on the Farmlead.com online marketplace. Similarly, buyers post what they are looking for. The idea is to connect the two when there is a match in requirements.
“There’s no restriction through us of who you can market your grain to,” says Turner. “We have contacted over 160 buyer groups within Western Canada and the Northern U.S. states, and there are companies that are aware of our program and have signed up to use it. And we have also made presentations about the system to around twenty producer organisations. We are trying to alleviate the disconnect between buyers and sellers.”
The Alberta Wheat Commission has endorsed the Farmlead.com program and buyers and sellers are beginning to sign up, although Turner admits it’s early days. Farmlead.com launched its buyer platform in early October and its seller platform three weeks earlier.
How it works
For farmers wanting to use Farmlead.com, the first step is to register on the site and indicate what commodity they have available for sale. The site offers a selection of around 83 different commodities. Then, farmers enter relevant information (location, moisture content, grade, and delivery preferences) and post an offer.
Buyers go through the same process — registering, then posting what they are looking to purchase, including details about grade, quantities and other factors.
Farmlead.com does credit checks on all buyers to try and ensure that they are credible. It also advises farmers to test a sample of the grain they are offering (which Farmlead.com will verify), so buyers know that the posted information about a specific product is accurate. A ratings system designed to indicate which buyers and sellers are the most reputable has been built into the program.
If a buyer sees that a farmer has exactly what he is looking for, he can contact that farmer to negotiate price, quantity and transportation options.
There is no subscription cost or sign up fee to register and post on the Farmlead.com marketplace. Instead, a flat-rate connection fee is charged only when a connection is made between buyer and seller. The fee ranges between $45 and $100 depending on the commodity. Once the fee is paid, contact information is provided to both parties so they can directly negotiate their own purchase agreement.
“We do not guarantee a sale,” says Turner. “What we do is facilitate the contact between two interested parties. It’s still up to the buyer and seller to come to an agreement. But we try to put as much power into the hands of the user as possible in terms of how they can market their grain. This is a risk free alternative to allow for more efficiency, transparency and competitiveness.” †