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Agriculture and the Sharing Economy - 9/11/15

The sharing economy has come to agriculture.  As reported by Bloomberg, America’s farmers collectively own nearly two hundred and fifty billion worth of equipment.  Much of the year, this machinery sits idly in barns, waiting for the next season.  FarmLink, based in Kansas City, Missouri, is trying to change that. 

Run by a former Sprint executive, the company has created a platform to help farmers rent out their unused equipment to growers who may be hundreds of miles away to take advantage of the differences in peak harvest seasons.  Farm co-ops and equipment dealers can already sign up online, and the company is preparing to add a mobile app.  According to FarmLink, "It’s Airbnb for agriculture." 

The company allows farmer cooperatives and agricultural retailers to establish rental terms.  It also offers to transport heavy equipment, removing a major obstacle to sharing and will help farmers secure insurance as needed.  The effort is particularly important in light of declining commodity prices.  Farm profits have fallen from a peak of one hundred and twenty four billion dollars in twenty thirteen.  Farm profits this year are projected to be less than sixty billion dollars, the lowest since two thousand and six. 

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.