Iowa farmer lands on Forbes “30 Under 30” list
Brad McDonald created an online marketplace for farmers to use to buy and sell inputs
By Diego Flammini
A 29-year-old hog farmer from Ryan, IA has been named to the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list for retail and ecommerce.
In 2016, Brad McDonald created Agroy Inc., an online platform that allows farmers to buy and sell seed, fertilizer and other items. He likens the platform to Amazon but geared towards farmers.
Nearly 15,000 applicants try to get onto the Forbes list. The fact McDonald was chosen is more of a victory for agriculture than anything else, he said.
“It’s a great honor for me personally,” he told Farms.com yesterday. “But, beyond that, it’s great for the industry. What I’ve found, living in New York and Chicago, is that agriculture is overlooked in the big cities. For Forbes to recognize something special about what we’re doing in agriculture is quite humbling.”
Agroy functions like a regular farmer’s co-op but moves the marketplace online. Instead of simply buying products with other farmers in their local communities, producers can collaborate with their peers around the country in the hopes of getting lower prices on their inputs.
Producers can create an Agroy account for free and can compare prices of different products and manufacturers. It’s a simple enough process but one that agriculture hadn’t considered viable yet, according to McDonald.
"If we can buy everything from appliances to toys to diapers for cheap online, why can't we buy seed and fertilizer at wholesale prices online? For us, that's the niche we are looking to fill,” he said.
As the number of farmers and acres registered on Agroy increase, the input prices could decrease. Farmers with 10,000-plus acres are offered incentives if they’re willing to work with other producers in the network. Having that strength in numbers can go a long way in negotiating with manufacturers, McDonald said.
“If we have a large number of farmers on our network, we can talk to the large companies and say we have a certain number of acres to fill and negotiate a better price,” he said. “We’re hoping it eventually becomes an automatic process where (the company) knows we can move the product and they automatically give us the best price.”
McDonald’s long-term goal is to grow Agroy to be a company that’s able to help farmers around the globe. But it’s all about baby steps at this point, he said.
“Remember when Amazon just sold books? That’s where we are right now.”
Top photo: Brad McDonald/Supplied