Poets&Quants’ Top MBA Startups Of 2018

Poets & Quants
By Nathan Allen
January 31, 2018

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DEMOCRATIZING FARMING AND PUTTING MORE MARKET POWER IN THE HANDS OF FARMERS

While farm­ing is “extreme­ly con­sol­i­dat­ed,” Baron says, prices are not all that trans­par­ent. Indeed, he’s right. Last Sep­tem­ber, Dow Chem­i­cal Com­pa­ny and DuPont com­plet­ed a $130 bil­lion mega-merg­er, cre­at­ing DowDuPont. And now the Depart­ment of Jus­tice is mulling a pro­posed merg­er of seed giant Mon­san­to and chem­i­cal behe­moth Bay­er. In the U.S., Mon­san­to and DowDupont already own more than 70% of the avail­able corn seed, Baron says. “What’s hap­pen­ing is what used to be the local region­al farm econ­o­my is now replaced by this oli­gop­oly sys­tem of con­sol­i­dat­ed man­u­fac­tur­ers, retail­ers, and buy­ers.”

Accord­ing to Baron, the North Amer­i­can seed and chem­i­cal indus­try can be val­ued at $26 bil­lion. “And there’s almost not a sin­gle price post­ed online,” Baron explains. “If you or I want­ed to buy some­thing for our dai­ly lives, we’d just go online, start with Ama­zon and shop around to find the best price. Even if you want to buy a car, you can find the MSRP and then nego­ti­ate from there.”

The result is “the least trans­par­ent and least com­pet­i­tive mar­ket you can imag­ine,” Baron says. Or, all of the pow­er is cur­rent­ly in the hands of these mega-agri­cul­ture com­pa­nies. “Famers are con­sumers, too,” Baron con­tin­ues. “There are hun­dreds of thou­sands of U.S. farms, and they buy bil­lions of dol­lars of these prod­ucts, and they get com­plete­ly hosed and tak­en advan­tage of. They lack basic con­sumer rights and trans­paren­cy that you or I ben­e­fit from.” When a farmer joins the net­work, his or her data on seed prices and per­for­mance as well as agro­nom­ics ana­lyt­ics are all post­ed online and avail­able to all farm­ers also on the net­work. “We are pro­vid­ing trans­paren­cy in a mar­ket that doesn’t allow it to hap­pen,” Baron boasts.

By pro­vid­ing farm­ers the abil­i­ty to make smarter, informed deci­sions, each farm is able to save around around $120,000, he esti­mates. “In South Dako­ta, that’s a new trac­tor or sprayer or putting your kids through col­lege,” Baron points out.

To read the full arti­cle, vis­it Poets & Quants.