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Agribusiness Student Ethan Rasmussen Launches Company AgRecords

By Ethan Brightbill 

For farmers and ranchers, record-keeping can mean the difference between success and losing their livelihoods. Producers need hard data about what happens in their fields for everything from insurance to government grants, and they use that information to identify what does and doesn’t work on their land. However, keeping track of all that data is no small feat, especially when running an agricultural business takes up so much of the day.

That’s where Utah State University agribusiness major Ethan Rasmussen hopes to change things. While only in his second year at USU, Rasmussen already has real-world entrepreneurial and agricultural experience, and he used that knowledge to create AgRecords, a software platform that helps producers easily track information and generate reports about soil health and other aspects of their operations. The service had a soft launch in October, and Rasmussen continues to lead the company even as he finishes his degree.

Rasmussen got his first taste of the agricultural industry when he was 14 at the Bar 10 Ranch, a grass-fed beef operation in Southern Utah with around 3,000 head of cattle. He ended up working there as a ranch hand for seven years and was impressed with what he saw.

“They were a wonderful example of a cattle operation that really cared about how their meat was produced and how they worked the land,” Rasmussen said. “That kind of stewardship interested me in agriculture and made me want to have that same impact on the world by taking care of the Earth and providing good food.”

After additional work in Mountain Green, Utah, and Evanston, Wyoming, Rasmussen decided to earn a bachelor’s degree. However, because he also served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Rasmussen missed the start of the fall 2021 semester and needed something to do until the next start of classes in January. He decided to enroll at Bridgerland Technical College to learn how to process meat.

The experience gave him perspective on the full process of raising beef from calf to butcher, and it encouraged him to pursue an idea he’d already been mulling over: an agricultural consulting company that would help people learn to get into agricultural production using their own backyard or other property.

Homestead Hands, as Rasmussen’s first business was soon named, launched that October.

“We focused on implementing good land management principles, livestock care, horticulture, and other things like that,” he said. “Having a business and trying to actively teach individuals about animals and horticulture really encourages you to remember what you're learning in class.”

The idea for AgRecords came after the founding of Homestead Hands when Rasmussen was at the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food’s Soil Health in the West Conference.

“I realized there's so much to learn regarding soil health and proper agricultural management,” Rasmussen said, “But there are few tools available to help farmers and ranchers see what actually improves their operations and get money for those changes.”

He and the team that became AgRecords worked with a Cache Valley company, Maiden Voyage, to develop software that could meet the resource gap for producers. After about a year of work, they had a finished product.

Rasmussen himself spearheaded everything from conceptualizing the program to marketing, outreach and navigating the legal hurdles of creating a new business.

While he needed to wind down Homestead Hands to focus on AgRecords, Rasmussen was happy to make the trade if it meant delivering a quality product that could make a difference for producers.

“There are many grants available for farmers and ranchers who use conservation practices, and there’s also a lot of pressure to keep records for federal regulations,” Rasmussen said. “The need to sit down with paper binders and sort through all that information is often pressing on their minds, but as we’ve talked to some producers, we’ve noticed that many of them had bad experiences with record-keeping technology that was too complicated to use and didn’t work as promised. That’s why we’ve focused on making AgRecords intuitive to save them time.”

Rasmussen explained that AgRecords is designed for the real-life challenges producers face. The mobile app works offline so farmers and ranchers can use it in the field, and multiple people can edit records and upload pictures and other files. Producers can track salinity, specific nutrients and even which equipment was used in a particular field. They can monitor their progress toward soil health goals they have set themselves. Farm Service Agency numbers are included on everything for convenience, and after reports are generated, producers keep their records and choose what they do with them.

“We have a yearly report that allows producers to share their entire field history for each plot with anybody that they choose,” Rasmussen said. “When they apply for grants or things like that, they can send the report with one click of a button. We’re ready to make the lives of farmers and ranchers easier and help them take care of the Earth.”

Rasmussen credited his experience at Utah State for helping him on his entrepreneurial journey.

“The Center for Entrepreneurship here at USU has been really valuable,” he said. “And when I show my professors the software and ask if I’m on the right track, they’re able to share their real-world experience and connect me with farmers and ranchers in the field. There are a lot of resources available to help us become involved in agriculture here locally, and now that I’m looking to build nationwide connections, I think USU will be able to help me there, too.”

Source : usu.edu

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