You tend to trust those who walk in your shoes. That‘s true when buying seed. According to Farm Journal research, more farmers buy a majority of their seed from a farmer-dealer versus ag retailer, co-op, direct from company, online or other options.
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While seed distribution models vary by company, many seed companies say their farmer-dealer networks provide great value to customers.
Golden Harvest, for example, has a network of 1,150 Seed Advisors, which range from dealers who sell to a handful of neighbors or family to professional level sellers who move tens of thousands of units. No matter the scale of the farmer’s seed business, the closeness to the customer is hard to replicate, says Dave Young, head of marketing for Golden Harvest.
“I have 20-plus years in this space, and I think the farmer sales model is the strongest,” Young says. “Farmers are looking for someone they can trust to help them in the seed-buying decision and work holistically in their plan. Once you’ve found those people, the trust can be hard to replace.”
The farmer-dealers are able to empathize with customers and adapt to their changing needs, he adds.
“This past spring was tough. We had a dealer in Michigan who hosted a BBQ when everyone was rained out of the field, and more than 100 people showed up. That kind of camaraderie is important,” Young says.
Golden Harvest Seed Advisors are expanding their service model, which includes offering to tender soybean seed out to the field and new just-in-time seed treatment options.
Benefits of Selling Seed
Mark Kallsen, business leader at Hoegemeyer Hybrids, says there are three ways farmers can benefit from also selling seed:
Creates additional income.
Keeps farmers up-to-date with the latest technologies and traits.
Encourages an entrepreneurial spirit to their farm business.
“Farmers who sell seed carry a familiarity with the product because they plant it themselves,” Kallsen says. “Seed is an emotional purchase, and I believe the farmer-dealer is a great communicator of information and resource to other farmers.”
Choose Your Path
Kallsen acknowledges other avenues for buying seed might be a fit for farmers, including buying in bulk from traditional ag retail. (According to Farm Journal research, more than 30% of seed is sold via this sector.) However, Hoegemeyer Hybrids are sold entirely through farmer-dealers.
“In 10 years, you’re going to be dealing with a lot bigger operator, but there will always be room for someone to position themselves as the trusted adviser. The farmer-dealer channel will be there, and I see it continuing to grow,” Young adds.