Sharing economy comes to farming

After the credit-rush, people everywhere are adjusting to the reality of less free cash flow.  Some 90% of  North American households are today servicing about twice as much debt on the same level of income as they earned 25 years ago.

Figuring out how to accomplish more with less is a necessity and a growing passion, every day in every way.  Smart businesses are tapping into this trend with services to share everything from homes, vacation properties, boats, cars and bikes.

Oil and metals are not the only commodities that have been falling in price since 2011.  Grains, coffee, soy, sugar, cotton and more:  you grow it, it’s been falling, as the US dollar rebounds. Now the sharing movement is spreading through farming too.

See: The sharing economy comes to the farm. Makes perfect sense for farmers. Not so good for new equipment sales and the companies that finance it…oh well time to focus on how to rebuild the balance sheet of households and small business, rather than just finance co’s and international conglomerates…

Three months out of the year, the 5,500 members of the Heartland Co-op push their sprayers and fertilizing machines to maximum capacity in hopes of getting the most out of a million acres of central Iowa farmland planted mostly with corn and soy. The rest of the time, the machinery typically sits in barns, idle until the next season, like most of the $248 billion of equipment owned by farmers across the country.

FarmLink, based in Kansas City, Mo., seeks to turn that equation around. Run by Ron LeMay, who headed Sprint’s wireless division until 2003, the company has created a platform to help farmers rent out their unused equipment to growers who may be hundreds of miles away to take advantage of the differences in peak harvest seasons.

Farming co-ops and equipment dealers can already sign up online, and FarmLink may add a mobile app later this year. “It’s Airbnb for agriculture,” says Jeff Dema, FarmLink’s president for grower services. “Farmers are examining their bottom lines and wondering if the $500,000 in their shed might be put to better use.”

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