Interview with Jayce Hafner, CEO of FarmRaise
Updated: Mar 18, 2022
Farmraise is a farmer-obsessed company that helps farms receive funding through grants, loans, and cost-sharing. Their simplified farm funding app helps farmers apply for major USDA cost-share programs in less than 20 minutes. They also track local and state funding programs as they open throughout the year and provide 1:1 support to help farmers unlock more capital!
We recently met with their awesome team and CEO Jayce Hafner was kind enough to answer some questions for us.
1. We all need fresh, healthy food -- why do you think so many farmers struggle to make ends meet? We absolutely do need fresh and healthy food, and farmers are core to sustaining our livelihoods. Agriculture producers - like other small business owners and entrepreneurs - have the tough job of mitigating so many risks, most of which are largely outside of their control. Risks like extreme weather, fluctuating market prices, and the health of their livestock or success of their crop have a direct impact on their ability to capture income and be profitable. We've heard from a lot of farmers struggling to make ends meet because their cost of production (including input costs like pesticides, seeds, and fertilizers) exceeds the prices they're receiving at market.
Farmers can reduce their input costs by transitioning to more conservation-based, soil health practices, but these practice transitions require time and seed capital just to get started. It's no wonder that making these transitions can be challenging, but with the right resources, we've seen many producers successfully transition to more profit-boosting, conservation-based farming. These farmers are on the forefront of innovation in agriculture as they're defining new ways to lower their input costs, capture more value through premium market opportunities, and ultimately grow their profitability. 2. You've recently been blogging about carbon farming - how do you see that market developing?
It's an exciting time to be in agriculture! We're thrilled by more and more big agribusiness companies making commitments to reduce carbon emissions in their supply chains in a way that enhances farmer profitability, and game-changing startups building out carbon markets to reward farmers for capturing CO2. We also realize that there are still a lot of unknowns in soil carbon sequestration across America's diverse bioregions, and are hopeful that the U.S. government can play an important role in supporting and incentivizing R&D in this field. Most important, these markets must be transparent, science-backed, and efficient, adequately rewarding producers for their soil health-building practices. 3. What advice would you give to someone who's interested in becoming a farmer?
As a farmer's daughter, I celebrate the decision to choose farming as a career. Farmers are critical to sustaining life on our planet and stewarding our natural resources for future generations. I would advise a beginning farmer to do all they can to get experience interning and working on farms before they set out to acquire or lease land of their own, as this experience will make them particularly eligible to access financing and give them the training they need to be successful.
Investing in relationships with other farmers in the surrounding region is also incredibly important, as these seasoned operators can provide ongoing advice and support (and would likely appreciate some help on their own operations during peak season!). 4. If you were reborn as a fruit or vegetable, what would it be and why?
I hope that I could come back as a grape vine, because of its creative, meandering path, and the positive environment it creates for passersby to enjoy a nice spot of shade in the summer heat!