FBN cuts yearly membership fee to zero

Ag e-commerce firm offers free accounts to farmers

E-marketplace Farmers Business Network (FBN) has disposed of the annual membership fee that allowed members access to its various buying groups and services.

California-based FBN, which has operated in the U.S. since 2014 and expanded to Canada in 2017, announced Tuesday (Sept. 15) its farmer members may now have “access to a select range of ever-expanding products and services without having to pay an annual membership fee.”

The fee, which in Canada last year was $800, paid for access to the company’s seed, input and insurance e-commerce sites, farm data analytics, grain marketing services, input financing, satellite imagery and aggregated data on crop performance and input efficacy, gathered from information provided voluntarily by other FBN members.

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Under the new free-membership model — which still requires farmers to register with the company — fees may apply for “certain product and service offerings” other than FBN membership, the organization said Tuesday.

“Farmers have had many hard years in a row. But this year was the hardest. As a company we do not want any current or prospective members to worry about membership costs,” FBN said in its announcement.

FBN, which today operates in Australia as well as Canada and the U.S. with about 14,000 members in all, said it’s now “stepping up to provide access to a select portfolio of offerings, all of which are focused on creating transparency, competition and helping you lower your costs and increase your profit potential.”

FBN’s arrival in the Canadian marketplace led earlier this year to the launch of an investigation by the federal Competition Bureau — not into FBN itself, but rather into other major agribusinesses’ and wholesalers’ response to the company’s entry into Canada’s seed and crop input markets.

A Federal Court judge in February ordered several companies to hand over records and communications, related to the bureau’s probe into allegations that a number of manufacturers and wholesalers had either refused or restricted supply to FBN.

The bureau said at the time it was also “investigating whether some of these entities may have engaged in co-ordinated behaviour against FBN,” but emphasized there was “no conclusion of wrongdoing at this time.” — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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