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A point we try to drive home as often as possible here is that innovation on its own doesn’t really get anywhere until it can be implemented. For agriculture, that often means that the ideas we talk about here on this show need to actually work for farmers. So for the future of agriculture to be more data-driven or more technological or more regenerative, the tools and practices will have to be executable. And for farmers to find this out, they will need to experiment with them. Which is very risky.
Luckily there are programs to help absorb some of that risk. A lot of them involve free money in the way of grants, or very cheap loans. But to access these programs requires an often tedious process of seeing if you are eligible then applying then waiting to hear back then keeping up with the ongoing reporting.
Lowering these barriers is exactly where FarmRaise comes in. Jayce Hafner is the co-founder and CEO of FarmRaise. What’s interesting about this episode is not only the impact they are having for farmers, nearly 10,000 so far and $9M in funding applications, but also where they hope to take the company. Today, they offer a freemium model where a farmer can check their eligibility on 15 programs for free or pay $25/month to check eligibility on hundreds of programs, apply to them in less than 15 minutes, and get ongoing support.
Jayce sees this as just the beginning. This valuable service can grow into many more financial services including lending, ecosystem services, and even tax support. In the interview I compare it to H&R Block for farmers, but she quickly corrects me that it’s more like TurboTax. Which is fair. FarmRaise just announced they closed a $7.2M seed round led by Susa Ventures as well as angel investments from some notable names including former podcast guest Zach Johnson (The Millennial Farmer). They also have some really interesting distribution partnerships with Corteva and Cargill with others scheduled to be announced this year. We talk about that as well. There’s so much here to dive into and I think you’ll find this full interview to be well worth your time.
Jayce grew up on a livestock farm in Virginia, where she saw first hand how these financial incentives can improve a farming operation. Before FarmRaise, she invested in agriculture with SLM Partners, completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Trinidad and Tobago, and worked on environmental sustainability at Apple. Jayce has led policy coalitions at several United Nations COP climate negotiations and founded a record-breaking conservation coalition that mobilized 100,000 citizens to advocate for the Arctic Refuge. She has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, an MS in Agriculture from the Stanford School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences.