A farmer-centered approach to ag tech innovation

November 23, 2021
David Black, CHS chief information officer, delves into the recent announcement of Cooperative Ventures and what this new capital fund will mean for farmers.

Innovation in any industry starts with investing in the technology to make it happen. Cooperative Ventures, a new capital fund recently announced by CHS and GROWMARK, sets out to do just that by creating advancements in breakthrough technologies for the agriculture industry.

“Both CHS and GROWMARK have great reach and scale in this industry. We represent thousands of farmers across millions of acres collectively,” says David Black, CHS chief information officer. “The strength of both cooperatives together matches innovations to the needs of farmers.”

Farmers at the forefront

The goal of Cooperative Ventures is not only to bring innovative technology to agriculture but to invest in technology with a real focus on those that are at the heart of production agriculture, according to Black. What really sets this venture apart, he explains, is the ability to test out new concepts in the field.

“We can not only choose the best technology to fit our cooperatives and owners, but we can accelerate the development of that technology through our investment,” says Black. “Then, we can assure the efficacy of all these technologies by testing them out on the farm.”

In addition to production agriculture, the joint venture plans to invest in the areas of supply chain and sustainability.

Looking ahead

Black also spoke about what long-term success will look like for the fund.

“One way we’ll measure this is by something we call ‘return of innovation.’ In other words, getting the innovative technologies we expect into the hands of farmers who are actually seeing a benefit to their operations,” says Black. “Secondly, since this is a venture capital fund, we’re also looking for financial return. We’re looking for an opportunity to grow these startups and innovators and then make them available to the general market.”

In terms of what this ultimately means for farmers, Black sees this as a great opportunity for farmers everywhere. “CHS and GROWMARK coming together on this new venture is great news for farmers,” says Black. “If we can take the assets of both cooperatives and put them together for the benefit of farmers, I think that’s a real win and unprecedented at this sort of scale.”