Site charges fee to link land owners, renters

Before she had a website, Shannon Veurink had pieces of paper sprawled out across the floor.

From this low-tech start, Veurink, husband Kevin and brother- and sister-in-law Andrew and Brittany Veurink, developed an online platform connecting farmland owners with prospective renters.

“We had a massive newsprint roll,” said Veurink of Hagersville, Ont.

“It was 15, 20 feet long on the living room floor and we brainstormed every feature and function that we thought the website should include to make it work and then we just kind of played around like a puzzle.”

The group rolled out last February after a year of development.

The website allows landowners to list farmland available for rent and receive offers from farmers interested in renting the land.

“There are a lot of people who are quite comfortable to rent their land out on their own and who would use our site feeling like they have the knowledge to go ahead and do their own lease,” she said.

“Our goal in creating the site is not to take the business away from brokers. What we would actually hope is we can establish relationships with brokers where they would use our website just like any other landowner.”

The business is to be featured on CBC’s Dragons’ Den TV series in early March. The appearance was filmed last year and Veurink must remain mum on the details of the appearance ahead of its airing.

“That’s something that we’re quite sure will help us spread the word a lot quicker,” she said.

The service doesn’t function like an auction. Rather, landowners can proceed with the bid of their choosing, factoring in the dollar per acre offered, the profile of the farmer and agronomic concerns.

Shannon said the idea for the business came from Kevin, who farms 3,000 acres of corn, wheat and soy with his brother.

“Land rental is so important to agriculture and he kind of had this moment where he’s like, ‘why isn’t a website doing this?’ “ she said.

Farmers registered with the website can receive notifications when land in their area is posted, but they are charged a fee to make offers as well as a percentage of the total lease value. The two sides write up a contract after the agreement is made online.

“When I met Kevin he didn’t even have an email address and so here he is making a website, so that part of it is new for him, but the risk taking is a bit inherent in Kevin and Andrew’s farm operation,” said Shannon.

“If there’s a cutting edge farm practice or if there’s an opportunity to be seized, the two of them usually weigh their options and jump on things pretty quickly.”

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