By Drew Slattery

The Future of Ag Retail

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May 19, 2019

Three ways innovative ag retailers are leaning in to sustainability offerings in order to grow their business.

Ag retailers have tremendous influence over agricultural production, given their role as one of a farmer’s most trusted advisors. They can therefore play an outsized role in accelerating the transition to a more sustainable and regenerative production system.

To get a better sense of how ag retailers are viewing sustainability, Trust In Food partnered with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to survey and interview ag retailers across the nation. The report features insights from more than 80 U.S. ag retail business leaders and professionals and highlights the ways in which they have successfully integrated sustainability products and services into their retail business’ portfolios.

Here are three key insights:

  • Creating reputational leadership through conservation agriculture solutions
    • There is a positive reputational halo for retailers who offer conservation-related products and services. In addition to the inherent contribution to grower-customer business demand and relationships, these retailers believe it creates a level of peer pressure on other retail businesses to ‘keep up with conservation to keep up with the competition’.
  • Improving impact through data and emerging technology
    • Emerging technology solutions are reshaping the way agricultural production is managed, by growers and retailers alike. These solutions create a level of visibility and precision control unlike anything previously seen in the history of agronomy. Innovative retailers are deploying these solutions to both improve their grower’s efficiency and to reduce their negative environmental impacts, as well as to effectively build the case to their grower-customers for management changes based on never-before-seen farm data.
  • Developing a triple bottom line approach through the diversification of products and services
    • A business portfolio that extends beyond crop inputs and application is a hallmark of innovative ag and future-proofed retailers. These diversified portfolios reflect increasing interest in a triple bottom line approach to operating across many ag retail businesses. This approach leads to a ‘conservation-first’ mindset with the grower-customer relationship, rather than a ‘sales-first’ mindset.

Organizations who want to empower farmers to change should consider first empowering their ag retailers to support that change, given their role in on-farm decision making.

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