FARMPAGE.COM DELIVERS WHAT FARMERS WANT
Debbie Coakley, Contributing Editor
Not only was FarmPage.com (www.farmpage.com) created with farmers’ needs in mind, but producers actually had a hand in its development. The resulting Web site provides a broad spectrum of information and database tools to farmers.
"Unlike the many e-commerce sites backed by corporate agriculture, FarmPage.com is an independent agricultural Web site that is partially owned and operated by farmers," says Steve Bremner, founder and manager of FarmPage.com. "Their input has helped us develop and refine our content to keep it truly producer-focused, timely and unbiased."
FarmPage.com was founded in Waterman, Ill., in September 1999. Innovation in agriculture is not new to this small town, Bremner notes, as DeKalb Genetics (now owned by Monsanto) also was founded near there.
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
FarmPage’s content focuses on three primary producer needs: market information and analysis, management information and product information. For example, visitors to the Web site can access commodity quotes and charts, government program updates, as well as grain and livestock market opening and closing commentaries written by analysts from Doane Agricultural Services.
And agricultural meteorologist Greg Soulje provides crop-specific weather forecasts three times a day. Soulje also is the meteorologist for WGN’s Tribune Radio Agri-Voice Network.
FarmPage’s full-time agronomist, Dick Bohling, Ph.D., supplies information for the site’s agronomy newsletter and daily AgroByte. Bohling responds to all questions farmers submit to firstname.lastname@example.org. "We strive to have all e-mails answered within 24 hours of receiving them," Bremner says.
There’s even a section for antique tractor enthusiasts. Max Armstrong, a farm broadcaster for WGN Radio and U.S. Farm Report, is an avid enthusiast of "old red metal." People can submit a photo of their antique tractor to feature on Armstrong’s Hall of Fame page.
"We’re fortunate to have respected and well-known individuals in the ag industry as part of our team," Bremner says. "Their knowledge and insight keep visitors coming back to the site again and again."
In 2000, FarmPage.com launched two farm management tools: Herbicide Selection Guide and Seed Selection Guide. These database tools allow producers to research and compare products and make purchasing decisions.
"The Herbicide Selection Guide database allows farm producers to efficiently identify herbicides that meet his or her requirements about treatment options for corn, soybeans, cotton and small grains," Bremner says. "In addition to identifying herbicides that provide the best control of specific weeds, herbicides can be grouped by crop, time of application, mode of action, chemical family and company."
Similarly, the Seed Selection Guide provides a quick and effective way to identify corn hybrids meeting specific desired criteria entered by producers. "Once identified, the qualifying hybrids can be compared for important performance traits," Bremner says. "The database supporting the Seed Selection Guide contains information on hundreds of popular corn hybrids."
Manufacturers have the option to link potential buyers from the selection guides to their own Web site or product pages.
FarmPage.com is primarily accessed by producers throughüut the Midwest. Bremner notes that user demographics indicate that 41.6 percent of FarmPage.com’s registered users farm more than 1,000 acres. Seven out of 10 registered users farm in excess of 500 acres. The majority of these registered users are between the ages of 35 and 54.
Keeping the needs of these producers in mind, FarmPage.com recently introduced Cyber Alliance - a grassroots campaign to empower farmers over the Internet. "Because I am a farmer, I understand some of the difficulties producers face on a day-to-day basis," Bremner says. "That’s why we created Cyber Alliance."
Farmers who join this members-only group will benefit from deep discounts on inputs from a variety of companies, knowledge and information sharing, enhanced marketing opportunities and the potential to receive premiums on outputs. Bremner says the goal is to increase farm profit margins and give back some of the control producers have given up the past two decades.
"FarmPage.com marches to the beat of a different drummer," Bremner concludes. "Amid all the e-commerce hype in the industry, FarmPage.com keeps a simple focus: meeting farmers’ needs and utilizing e-commerce to help producers succeed." AM