On-Line Grain Marketplace Announces Investment By Monsanto

Monsanto’s venture capical fund has invested $6.5 million in a Canadian-based grain marketplace firm that facilitates direct cash sales for farmers.

Three other groups — Avrio Ventures, the MaRS Innovation Accelerator Fund and Serra Ventures Funding – also have made investments in FarmLead, according to a press release. Monsanto’s investment arm is Monsanto Growth Ventures (MGV).

This round of funding will support FarmLead’s expansion into the U.S. market and the opening of its U.S. headquarters in Chicago. Kiersten Stead of MGV and Aki Georgacacos of Avrio Ventures will join FarmLead’s board of directors.

Founded in 2013, FarmLead serves more than 4,000 farms and has seen levels of tonnage traded rise 200% to 300% higher year over year, the release specified. Its FarmLead Marketplace extends users’ market reach and the opportunity to achieve higher return on investment.

“Once limited by highly localized, relationship-dependent practices, farmers now have access to a wealth of buyers online to garner the best pricing possible for their grain,” the release stated. “Key additions to FarmLead’s product line include an innovative forward contracting service that will allow growers to sell to interested buyers based on forecasted grain yields – enabling better financial management of farm operations.”

“Very few companies are aimed at the critical commerce piece of the equation that helps farmers realize profits from day one,” said Kiersten Stead, MGV’s investment director. “FarmLead built a platform that can do just that and is a key part of a diversified approach to marketing and trading grain. We are delighted to support a great team and to partner with committed investors to enable an open marketplace that gives the industry more options and a differentiated advantage.”

FarmLead allows farmers to post their bids online, or potential buyers can engage directly with farmers who have listed their grain for sale. Negotiations and tranactions can cover conventional, organic or identity-preserved grains. Farmlead is actively recruiting regional reps.

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“This investment signals the appetite for a solution that accelerates the rates of commercial grain marketing transactions,” says FarmLead CEO and co-founder Brennan Turner.

“Our ability to increase deal flow for farmers, enabling them to negotiate better prices and other key trade terms online, allows farms to take ownership of their grain production and marketing lifecycle,” he said in the release. “This is the future of grain trading and we are truly poised to transform the way agricultural commodities are traded worldwide.”

Registering, browsing, posting and negotiating grain deals on the FarmLead Marketplace is free. Buyers and sellers on the site only pay when a deal is finalized. FarmLead is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario and operates offices across Canada. For more information: www.farmlead.com.

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