Earlier this month, FarmAfield announced the launch of its beef cattle marketplace, the startup’s first public product. Their marketplace provides consumers with opportunities to easily invest in agriculture at a lower financial entry-level and with lower income volatility. The marketplace also provides new sources of capital for farmers.
The marketplace allows individuals to purchase cattle through FarmAfield and have them raised through production contracts with cattle feeders in Nebraska. These production contracts typically have durations of 6-8 months, allowing individuals to purchase cattle easily without being locked into a multi-year commitment.
“Production contracts are used a lot in agriculture and are treated like your investment,” said Brennan Costello, Sales Lead for FarmAfield. “If you wanted to [invest in production contracts] on your own, you could but it would cost you a minimum investment of $30,000-$40,000. Our platform lets you invest for any amount.”
The marketplace requires no minimum contract size. Individuals can choose between several types of cattle using the online platform, purchase them securely, and monitor their growth and status online with a real-time interface.
“Once you create your account and invest money, you’ll be able to see your cattle’s progress, the projected weight, the current price of the cattle and some other data in real-time,” said Costello. “You’ll be able to see that on your investment page through Farmafield’s platform.”
Investing in cattle is big business. FarmAfield is hoping that their platform will attract people who already have experience in investing and provide them with a more interactive and easier to track investment, and also bring in first-time investors.
“What it does for people who already have experience [in investing], is it opens them up to having a more interactive and easier to track investment,” said Costello. “We’re also offering it to people who aren’t currently investing in the agriculture market but might be interested in it. This is an easy, low-risk way for them to get in.”
The USDA reported that all cattle and calves totaled 94.4 million head this January. 2017 U.S. cattle receipts were valued at $67 billion.
“More than ever, farmers and ranchers are looking for new sources of capital investment,” said Mitch Minarick, FarmAfield’s founder. “The market is looking for innovations and platforms to make improvements to farmers’ bottom lines. We now offer consumers a unique way to address this need by providing an alternative and enjoyable way to invest in agriculture.”
FarmAfield is also alleviating risk for the farmers by allowing them alternatives to borrowing from banks and credit unions. Farmers can decide how much investment they want to take on from outside investors through the platform.
“Because the commodity price for grain is pretty low right now, a lot of farmers might be interested in this benefit that we can provide for them,” said Costello. “We think we’re providing value to the consumers and the farmers with this new marketplace.”
Costello said that beef cattle represents only the first offering on the FarmAfield marketplace. The company has plans to add additional livestock and crops and are in talks with international farmers to expand their farmer base.
“This is only our first offering. If people are interested in investing in agriculture, they’ll see a lot more products coming out and can build themselves a diverse portfolio of different types of products,” said Costello.
Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.