Farming requires a plethora of specialized equipment. Not only does each season require specialty implements, such as planters and combines, to complete fieldwork, but sometimes there are trees to remove, dirt work to shape up, a trench to dig or weeds to spray.
Each piece of machinery and each tool requires money and storage space. The average per farm expenditure in Nebraska for farm machinery in 2020 was $22,400, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statics Service.
A new businesses called Haggle enables farmers earn a passive income from what they already own.
“Haggle is a marketplace helping farmers increase the utilization of their assets,” said Nathan Greuel, owner and operator of the startup platform Haggle.
He estimates the average farm has $3 million invested in farm equipment, 90% of which sits idle most of the year.
This new app serves three main functions: buying and selling, lending and borrowing and booking and hiring.
Greuel launched Haggle in late July. Still in its beta form, the platform intends to connect more people as it grows. Greuel is working with developers from Iowa Startup Accelerator Inc. and Ag Startup Engine to fine tune the app.
Part of the expansion will include bartering, which will set Haggle apart from other services.
“Bartering is the exchange of equal value,” Greuel said. “We’ve heard some really interesting testimonials from customers of what they’ve bartered.”
One users traded a cow for the use of a tractor, he said. Another encounter involved a grain bin spot contract in exchange for labor to put up a grain bin. In both cases, the need for using capital or cash was reduced by “leveraging what they have for what they want,” as Greuel put it.
With market volatility, inflation and the uncertainty surrounding current prices, he said Haggle was initiated at a prime time. Greuel formed the idea of an e-commerce app 10 years ago but said he had to wait for technology to advance enough to make it possible.
Greuel is familiar with agriculture. Growing up in west central Illinois on a corn and soybean farm, he attended Southern Illinois College. Greuel served in the military for six years and completed a tour in Iraq in 2005. Following his service, he earned a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Iowa and worked for John Deere for 14 years. He now resides in Iowa.
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“I love agriculture, I love everything about agriculture,” Greuel said.
The name Haggle highlights agriculture in itself with “ag” in the term.
What started as a social media platform transformed into an app where farmers can network their goods and services. For supply and demand to exist at optimum capacity, Greuel said that about 250 interactions are needed continually.
Most farmers seem willing to trade within a 60-mile radius. Currently, there are pockets in western Illinois, as well as eastern and central Iowa using the platform. Greuel is seeking more people who want to increase the value of their farm assets through Haggle.
“It’s open to anything that farmers are willing to post or borrow and earn an income off of,” Greuel said.
He foresees a variety of ways that farmers can make connections on Haggle: aluminum or flatbed trailers, tools, generators, shed or grain bin storage, residential lawn mowers, agronomy services, soil sampling services and more.
Farmers are responsible for the logistics of transporting items. This opens up the opportunity for booking services to haul items between farmers, said Greuel.
Currently, the beta testing terms and conditions do not include an insurance policy. Greuel is exploring insurance options with an insurance advisor.
“Our future aspiration is that Haggle is a trusted platform,” Greuel said.
As the company develops, he plans to add insurance coverage and a rating system so lenders can see if a borrower is considered reliable prior to engaging in a transaction.
Following the industry standards of the vacation rental company Airbnb and the car sharing company Turo, a 15% fee is charged to borrow on Haggle. Purchases have a lower commission.
Haggle provides an open line of communication between farmers to buy, sell, trade and barter without the middle man.
“Nothing I have seen gives the farmer full autonomy,” Greuel said. “Haggle is the leveraging platform, but it’s your decision about what you post and what you want to lend out to people.”
To see what Haggle has to offer, go to hellohaggle.com.
Reporter Kristen Sindelar has loved agriculture her entire life, coming from a diversified farm with three generations working side-by-side in northeastern Nebraska. Reach her at Kristen.Sindelar@midwestmessenger.com.