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Building the Farm Business Alliance

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Farmers of North America (FNA) is all about building the future of farming. We do that by building the farm business alliance.

Every Member has a huge stake in bringing new Members into Farmers of North America. Because growing the farm business alliance grows opportunities for each Member.

Using every tool, every technique, every source of ideas and initiative, Farmers of North America exists to create competitive options for farmers so that farmers grow their own balance sheets. It is a vital mission for agriculture and for North American producers to ensure that as farm product prices go up, most of that increase stays with the farmers who grow those products.

Still, all of the various successes Farmers of North America has had in reducing input costs, creating risk management tools or achieving regulatory reform — all of these things are examples of what is possible by building the farm business alliance. They are examples, not the main goal.

We use Farmers of North America not because we can save many times the membership fee in lower costs on one herbicide today. We become Members because that is how we build the alliance to add more and more examples. More herbicides, more fertilizer options, more lubes. We recognize that we have some big challenges to deal with, requiring as many of us as possible to be in this farm business alliance. Taking on seed costs, for example, is an ambitious goal that requires strong participation.

At its simplest, we are talking about market power.

Many farmers are confronting increasingly fewer suppliers. The suppliers have increasingly strong market positions through extended patent protections and inter-company alliances. Their job is clear: to maximize profitability for their shareholders. And what is a corporation except a business alliance of investors, joining together to reap profits. The major chemical companies have all entered into business alliances with one another, with shared technology agreements, cross-licensing alliances and development partnerships. Line companies have alliances with chemical and seed companies. And there are alliances of many kinds networking throughout the supply chain. All of these things increase the market power of already powerful suppliers.

The answer is not to rage against the companies. Rather it is for farmers to build their own business alliance. By doing so we can address the market power imbalance.

And the fact is that even the largest commercial farmer cannot achieve on his own, what can be achieved by farmers acting together.

What makes the farm business alliance different is that we are acting together for a singular purpose: to maximize our farm profitability. We have no agricultural ideology and no political party preferences. We leave the larger policy debates to the farm policy organizations. We exist only for the practical purpose of finding more and new ways to maximize our farm profitability. That’s what building the farm business alliance is all about.

In fact, you do not “join” Farmers of North America in the normal sense. It is more accurate to say you “employ” Farmers of North America. You employ a management team that is constantly developing new strategies, new tactics, new sources and new opportunities to maximize your farm profitability. You employ a corporate development team that is actively looking for equity opportunities to allow you to own a piece of the value chain and keep a larger share of the value on your farm, on your balance sheet rather than someone else’s.

So it is important to keep firmly in mind that your Membership dues are not to get you lower cost fertilizer or better risk management tools right now.  It is to build the farm business alliance, which leads to all those things.

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