“The biggest challenge that we face is increasing our farmers’ access to capital. The current unit costs $140,000. Because container farming is still relatively new, the traditional worlds of business banks and even the USDA’s, they want experience in farming, and experience in business. Whereas we’re about access to people.” That is said by James Woolard, CMO with Freight Farms, in an interview with Forbes.
With its global infrastructure the company aims to expand its efforts to revolutionize local access to food for a more sustainable future. Not only in terms of the environment, but by increasing local community resilience and security. The finance options are one of the challenges to overcome, Woolard explains.
He says that “even though it’s bloody hard to move public policy and government,” the company is working with like-minded partners formally and informally to influence public policy: For example, the USDA recently infused [hundreds of millions] of relief funds into the ag-sector: “How do we convince the institutions that this is something you should support from a loan and financing point of view?” One option is a so-called Aggie Bond: a low-interest middle ground between private and federal financing, managed at the state level through a federal-state partnership that allows private lenders to get federal or state tax-exempt interest on loans for beginner farmers to purchase farmland, equipment, buildings, and livestock. Freight Farms offers potential farmers education regarding financing options.
In the interview he adds that widening the buying networks and generational / organizational resistance are the other thorny challenges the company is dealing with.