Government Shutdown Showcased “Alternative Data” Platforms by Ag Startups

Financial Times writers Gregory Meyer and Emiko Terazono reported last week that, “The longest government shutdown in US history was a marketing bonanza for the ‘alternative data‘ industry, and nowhere more than in agricultural markets.

“The closure of about a month, which lasted until late January, halted a stream of important reports from the US Department of Agriculture, which for decades has been the premier data source on world crops. Many US growers and traders depend on the free USDA estimates to make decisions on planting, purchasing and marketing.

Alternative data platforms operated by agri-tech start-ups including Gro Intelligence, Indigo Ag and Farmers Business Network (FBN), relying on computing power and non-traditional sources such as sensors on farm machinery, stepped in to fill the void. The shutdown was a live test of a question nagging government economists: do we still matter?”

The FT writers noted that, “Despite government economists’ concerns, the alternative data providers are not looking to replace USDA releases. Both Gro and Indigo incorporate USDA numbers for their data operations. ‘The USDA allows us to do everything we do,’ said David Potere, who heads up Indigo’s geospatial innovation unit.”

Last week’s FT article also pointed out that, “FBN has provided national yield estimates on corn and soyabeans to its 7,800 members since the start of the year, said Charles Baron, its co-founder. The network’s numbers are based on satellite as well as precision agriculture data from member growers covering 30m acres in the US and Canada.

“FBN’s numbers around planting and harvesting ‘can basically be within 1 per cent of what the USDA eventually said,’ Mr Baron said.”

This entry was posted in Start-up Company Law. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.