Thousands Of Farmers Mix Computers With Crops

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As area farmers gear up for planting, more of them are using a new service.  Farmers Business Network started around two years ago.

Since then, the company, which has its national operations center in Sioux Falls, has grown to include more than 3,600 members.

As Todd Hanten gets ready to hit the field in northeastern South Dakota, he’s mixing crops with computers during this difficult year for farmers.

“We are going to need a rally in the markets or another very good crop like we had last year,” Hanten said.

The Goodwin, South Dakota, farmer is one of thousands of Farmers Business Network members.

“I started to realize that I was probably going to fall behind if I didn’t join,” Hanten said.

FBN is an independent network of farmers who anonymously share information, including which seed varieties are performing best in their fields.

“For example, farmers have saved $30 an acre by switching to a lower cost variety that yields the same. It cuts through a lot of the marketing that ag companies and seed companies are doing and showing farmers what the real world performance data is,” FBN Head of Sales Development Andy Cahoy said.

Farmers can also share how much they’re paying for seeds and different chemicals. Cahoy says right now farmers are paying wildly different prices.

“A lot of farmers are using that as negotiating leverage too because they’re able to see what the market average is for those chemicals,” Cahoy said.

“I’m able to tell if I get a good deal or not and where the high, low and average prices are on some of these varieties,” Hanten said.

Information that Hanten hopes will help plant a profitable year.

“It’s going to help me on the inputs. With tight margins right now, it’s going to be key,” Hanten said.

FBN has an annual membership fee of $600.  It’s also hiring for 150 new positions.

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