US crops trader ADM invests in digital agriculture platform


Archer Daniels Midland, one of many world’s largest grain merchants and processors, has invested in a digital start-up set as much as give farmers extra energy in agricultural markets lengthy dominated by massive corporations.

ADM has invested in Farmers Business Network as a part of a $300m capital elevating spherical. Founded in 2014, California-based FBN’s platform has been dubbed a “Google for farmers”, offering its 33,000 members new distribution shops for his or her crops and different choices to buy seeds and chemical substances.

The funding comes 5 weeks after ADM and its rival Cargill final month bought their very own farmer going through digital three way partnership GrainBridge, to software program firm Bushel.

Chicago-based ADM’s funding additionally contains and introduced a large ranging tie-up with the agritech start-up together with a partnership to develop markets for grains grown with decrease carbon emissions.

ADM participated in FBN’s newest funding spherical led by Fidelity Investments, which valued the start-up at $3.9bn. ADM, which invested in a minority stake by way of its enterprise arm, declined to reveal the scale of its fairness funding.

Other buyers embody metal magnate Lakshmi Mittal’s household workplace and hedge fund supervisor Paul Tudor Jones’s funding automobile, Tudor Investment Corporation. Investors from earlier rounds, together with BlackRock and Singapore’s Temasek additionally participated in the most recent capital elevating.

The expanded tie-up combines ADM’s huge community of grain storage, dealing with and processing services with FBN’s digital farm commerce and data-analytics capabilities.

In the previous, FBN has alleged it had been blocked entry to some markets by incumbent crop merchants, whereas its push for transparency in the traditionally opaque marketplace for agricultural provides akin to pesticides and seeds has unsettled conventional gamers.

Stronger hyperlinks with ADM will present wider market entry for “low carbon” grain grown by FBN members who use regenerative agricultural practices, in addition to assist distribute FBN’s personal model seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, mentioned business consultants.

“The deal is a big boost for FBN, which has faced roadblocks from established players in the agriculture industry,” mentioned Louisa Burwood-Taylor, head of analysis at AgFunder, an agri and meals tech VC which isn’t an investor in the start-up.

Amol Deshpande, FBN’s chief govt and co-founder, mentioned the funding from ADM didn’t make a distinction to the start-up’s place as a challenger to established agricultural corporations.

“We are still challenging incumbent players. I don’t think the [tie-up] precludes anybody from doing business with us,” he mentioned.

“I wouldn’t expect ADM to work with just one platform,” Deshpande added. “It’s good for a company to use multiple platforms.” He famous that FBN already had a relationship with Poet, a number one gas ethanol firm that purchases massive quantities of US corn.