Image credit: Sean McGee / Unsplash

FBN gets into the livestock game with animal health, feed acquisitions

March 9, 2021

Farmers Business Network (FBN) is hoping to provide livestock producers with some of the same support services that it has offered its row crop-producing members after acquiring two companies in the animal feed and health space.

Today it unveiled two new marketplace offerings — FBN Pharmacy and FBN Feed — targeted at dairy and meat farmers.

The additions make sense, according to co-founder Charles Baron, given that 50% of FBN’s members already raise livestock.

“As we’ve worked with more and more farms, our farmers have asked us to work on additional aspects of the farm that were important to them,” Baron told AFN. “For many farms, often the dominant side is the livestock. So, this was a natural extension of FBN and our capability to further our mission of improving the profit potential for our family farm members.”

With 24,000 farms on the platform throughout the US, Canada, and Australia, the majority of its livestock-producing members are raising beef cattle, Baron said.

FBN Feed includes dry feed, liquid supplements, lick tubs, and nutritional support for cattle, swine, and poultry in select US states. This includes bulk and bag feed delivered direct to farms, with 0% interest financing for those who qualify.

To establish Pharmacy, FBN acquired Prairie Livestock Supply, a Minnesota-based pharmaceuticals provider for swine, beef, poultry, and dairy producers. The acquisition adds 40 employees including veterinarians, animal health sales specialists, and nutritionists across a variety of livestock breeds to the FBN team. FBN Pharmacy offers a full range of drugs and supplies. Products ship directly to farms across 41 US states, with some jurisdictions offering veterinarian-supported services.

Users can also access clinical veterinary care through a partnership with Southwest Veterinary Services (SVS). Through their collaboration, FBN and SVS are hoping to provide users with more comprehensive animal care, including disease tracking to better identify management inefficiencies.

It also acquired ProPig and ProCattle, two animal nutrition brands similarly hailing from Minnesota, for the Feed marketplace.

“They’ve built up a terrific reputation with their customers over the years and have decades of experience,” Baron said. “What was most interesting was their multi-species approach. We have a very diverse member base so that was fundamental.”

Getting livestock producers a fairer price

Like its Procurement platform, its crop inputs marketplace, the new livestock-focused offerings feature transparent pricing so that livestock producers can make sure they are getting a fair deal. 

“When we started looking at animal health, we started by analyzing data, invoices, and records from producers and found that pharmaceutical products are often selling for a 75% price difference,” Baron said.

“You have farmers paying a wide range for these products. There is a high degree of variance between generic and branded products, with generics sometimes selling as much as 65% below the branded counterparts.”

The livestock industry has been facing enormous pressure of late, with Covid-19 adding extra challenges and demands through plant closures, sick workers, backlogged supply, and empty supermarket shelves.

Baron also sees a lingering spread between the consumer price for beef and what ranchers are bringing home.

“Producers really have to buckle down with their economics and make sure they are managing as tightly as they can with all of their input decisions. I think there’s enormous potential for helping producers to market more creatively,” he said.

There are already a few efforts to help farmers find the right market for their products. Minnesota’s Blue Nest Beef is helping ranchers find a market fit for regeneratively raised beef, for example; while in Wyoming, the state is exploring the use of blockchain to help ranchers get a higher price for sustainably-raised beef.

Last week, FBN also threw its hat in the carbon credit ring. Its FBN Gradable Carbon program helps farmers figure out how to adopt practices that will generate credits, and finds purchasers for them.

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