NAMA Fall Conference

Crowdsourcing Comes to Agriculture

Jamie Johansen

harvest fundersWe are all familiar with crowdfunding campaigns, however in the past they have mainly been found in the techie world. That is no longer the case. Now projects related to livestock, irrigation system or anything on the farm might be made possible thanks to newly launched Harvest Funders.

Crowdsourcing.org said the platform got its start when founder Jesse Lasater heard that a friend of his couldn’t get a loan to put in a new sprinkler system for his farm. Around the same time, one of Lasater’s cousins wrapped up a fairly lengthy but ultimately unsuccessful stay on The Voice, a singing competition. Looking to parlay that modest success into a career, the cousin took to Kickstarter to raise cash without giving up creative control to a record label.

Initially, the plan was only to help people in his area, near Bayfield, Colorado. But he then realized that the site can help farmers nationwide. After building the site from scratch with help from a developer team, Harvest Funders was ready for launch on March 25, the National Agriculture Day.

Lasater said he surveyed farmers across the nation and found that 40 percent of individuals surveyed had been denied for an agricultural loan. Part of that is the fact that the industry is relatively risky — a farm can have a great year and follow it up with a terrible one, something that scares off potential investors or lenders. Reward-based crowdfunding can help alleviate that need for cash.

Harvest Funders allows both fixed and flexible funding campaigns, and has a fairly standard fee structure. The projects that meet their goal give up 5%; those that fall short but go the flexible funding route give up 8% (fixed funding campaigns that don’t meet the goal don’t keep any of the money and thus pay no fee). There’s also a PayPal transaction fee.

Ag Groups, Farming