• Research and Development
  • Sep 18, 2019

Disrupting Ag Retail for the Farmer’s Sake

Man walking in field
Shane Thomas recently posted an article on his blog titled “The Re-Engineering of Ag Retail.” In it, Thomas (a successful agribusiness professional based in Canada) addresses the present and looming disruption in ag retail.
 
He got it right. I can’t think of a word that better defines our industry. Or a more necessary one. For retailers and their farmers to thrive, we all have to disrupt how we work. This kind of change has been a constant within our farmer and retail-owned organization for nearly 100 years.
 
Thomas was nice enough to give WinField United a shout out as a company that’s “investing heavily into the future of farmers and ag retailing in North America.” He also mentioned some of the ways we’re leading positive disruption with our precision ag tools, our omnichannel e-business platform and our commitment to sustainability with a link to our Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN™ business site.
 
As WinField United drives our industry forward, we make sure every advancement and investment we make support farmers the way they want to be supported. That every disruption is welcomed. It’s something we do best. And something we regularly deliver in collaboration with our independently owned and operated retailers. Our unique structure has unequaled strength. Together with our commitment to R&D and data-backed insights, we have a unique ability to help farmers drive change themselves, not just respond to the latest disruption.
 
Ag tech
Using the powerful engine of our R7® Tool and the localized insights of our Answer Plot® Program, we created our omni-channel approach to e-business. The most advanced e-business mechanism in the industry, it seamlessly connects farmers with recommended solutions through a best-in-class online experience. Farmers get what they need to confidently purchase products and services customized for their fields, 24/7.
 
No other ag company is doing this. So why are we?
 
Two reasons: to help farmers interact more easily with their local retailers and to enable local retailers to be more agile in responding to farmers’ needs. This approach:
 
  • Drives ROI for both the farmer and the retailer
  • Enables farmers to work with insights derived from decades of high-quality data that’s specific to their area
  • Provides year-over-year data so retailers can provide confident recommendations and be trusted experts
 
We have over 80 retail-owners who have already joined us on this omnichannel journey and we’re adding more all the time. We also just teamed up with GreenPoint AG, a leading inputs supplier and long-time retail-owner of WinField United and Land O’Lakes, to help bring our full e-business solution to life. And it’s paying off.
 
Elite prescription program
But we’re not stopping there. Because of our direct connection to farmers and ag retailers, we know the power of cooperation and the need for a solution that supports the total acre from data to inputs to technology and, just as important, financial tools. To show our commitment to farmers, WinField United is putting skin in the game by sharing their risk.
 
  • SECURE financing by WinField United is a low-interest alternative financing program that’s provided $500 million in loans to farmers to date.
  • The WinField United Elite Rx™ prescription service is an advanced, total acre program that advises farmers on in-season management decisions, including product recommendations, tissue sampling and ag tech services. It’s used with the SECURE program to help farmers mitigate risk and warrants results. If farmers follow the prescription plan and yield isn’t up to 90% of their actual production history, WinField United gives them a predetermined payment. No questions. No excuses.*
 
No kidding. 
 
Tomorrow’s opportunities
We get it: More farmers are purchasing inputs online.
 
  • USDA stats show that in 2017, 23% of crop farmers purchased inputs online, up from 16% in 2013.1 The total number of farmers purchasing inputs online increased by more than 43% over that four-year period.
  • Purdue University research shows that on average, younger people will assume decision control on farms over the next eight years.2 It stands to reason these younger farmers may have a stronger preference for e-business options.
 
We need to be online. But we also need to be in the field. In the lab. At the retailer. And in your community. We work across every part of our organization to let farmers and their local retailers disrupt their way to meaningful and lasting success.
 
  • Our WinField United Innovation Center staff relentlessly pushes the boundaries of new product development to bring data proven, quality inputs to market faster. For example, we’re working in conjunction with trait providers to improve efficacy and reduce risk in the new, complex soybean trait environment.
  • Our technology experts constantly pilot new tools with farmers to get real-world outcomes and help them take their operations to the next level.
  • Our Land O’Lakes SUSTAIN business works with farmers and ag retailers to harness technology and innovative thinking to drive productivity and stronger environmental outcomes. The Truterra Insights Engine digital platform allows farmers, ag retailers and food companies to measure their sustainability progress in real time, farm-by-farm and acre-by-acre.
  • Our commitment to supporting local communities has never wavered. That’s why we share our profits with our owners each year and invest in philanthropic and business efforts to advance rural communities.
 
As we’ve said in the past, you can’t just algorithm agriculture. It’s more nuanced than that. More personal. More real-world. With much higher stakes. The disruption and new market entrants are only making all of us better, pushing the industry forward in exciting ways that ultimately benefit farmers around the world.
 
At WinField United, we believe it’s the boots-in-the-field approach that sets us apart. Combine that with our research, data, digital suite and new services platform and we’re uniquely able to disrupt agriculture in ways farmers need to win.

This is what honest ag does.
 

Brett Bruggeman is president of WinField United and executive vice president of Land O’Lakes, Inc. To hear more from Brett about how Land O’Lakes’ “reverse ownership” model is putting ag retail and farmers first, check out a recent episode of Land O’Lakes’ Something Greater podcast here.


*See program details.
 
1. USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farm Computer Usage and Ownership, Washington, D.C., August 2017.
 
2. Fullerton EC, Downey S, Gunderson M, Thompson N. Decision Making on Multigenerational Farms. Department of Agricultural Economics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana, May 2017.




Research and Development