In the short life of RealAgriculture.com, by far the most interest has been in the fertilizer stories. Fertilizer prices are a very hot topic in newspapers, on the Internet and in the coffee shops across North America. Due to the volatility of the fertilizer market over the past 12 months, the spread in pricing from one retailer to the next can be wide. Larry Weber, a market commentator has started the website Fertilizer Buddy to encourage farmers to share fertilizer pricing across Canada and the United States.
On the site Weber comments that
“If you are looking for price discovery and price transparency in the fertilizer market, farmers can help themselves by posting their area prices. …The Internet is a powerful tool if you use it to your advantage.”
Some posts on the site are critical of Weber’s motive and whether or not the information is legitimate based on some farmers posting anonymously. But all in all I would say that the prices supplied by visitors to the site are legit and in good faith. I think that it is important that we do not let the possibility of a couple unscrupulous people wreck a really great idea.
When I discussed the site with several ag input retailers across Western Canada, the feeling was that farmers sharing information is a good thing but make sure that the information is correct. Making decisions based on false information is just as harmful as having no information at all. Questions to ask yourself when reading the prices are for example, what are the payment and delivery terms?
With farmers still in shock from the volatility of the past year gaining more insight is a great way to make better decisions. Larry Weber and I have been playing phone tag for a week, as a result I was unable to get him to provide comments on the overall results of the site. When we do connect I will follow up on this story.