Buy Ag Chemicals with Greater Insight: Q&A with Jeff Vanrobaeys
Jeff Vanrobaeys is Senior Sales Agronomist for Farmers Business Network Canada. His industry experience spans more than 25 years, with agronomy-focused roles in research, management, marketing and sales and agronomy support.
Brian Paff: What experiences led you into agronomy and your current role with Farmers Business Network℠?
Jeff Vanrobaeys: Well, I've always been involved in a family farming operation. I spent most of my summers at my grandparents' farm, and that kind of instilled in me a love of agriculture and farming in general—I adapted well to the community mindset, if you will.
So out of that I pursued agriculture at the University of Manitoba (I thought I might be a vet at one point in time, but that never materialized). Now I'm a certified crop advisor and a 4-R nutrient management specialist, having worked in many aspects of agriculture—from research to management to sales and marketing to agronomy.
The agronomist position with FBN presented me with a great opportunity to be involved in a unique and innovative company in a dynamic environment. My primary responsibilities involve supporting our account managers and executives, who in turn work with FBN members in Canada, by sharing knowledge and relaying insights into our products, what they do and what the right fit might be for a particular operation.
BP: What do you enjoy most about working with farmers?
JV: Working with farmers is a truly rewarding experience. It’s a very close-knit community, and I don't think you'll find a more honest, compassionate group of people. There are friends that I made 25 years ago through farming who I still communicate with today. And my wife’s family still farms, so that has obviously carried on into my personal life. I always treat customers fairly and with honesty, and I want to address what is best for their operation. I try to ask, “What would I do in that situation?” and then develop a plan based on that philosophy.
BP: Describe the challenges farmers face when buying pesticides for their operation.
JV: It certainly is a challenging process. Often growers are compelled to buy certain products to qualify for programming, and other times their retailer will push products to satisfy their own sales volume and meet targets.
There are lots of choices and many similar products that do essentially the same thing. Farmers know they’re going to need pesticides each year, and they want to ensure they’re making educated decisions. Your bottom line is important—perhaps more so than normal because of depressed commodity prices—so what you pay for crop protection makes a big difference.
BP: We recently published our Ag Chemical Buying Guide for Canadian farmers. What are some of the key takeaways and how can farmers use this resource?
JV: Similar to some of our other publications, the Ag Chemical Buying Guide is a useful resource for farmers. It explains chemical labels and addresses active ingredients, concentrations and alternative chemistries, which enables farmers to make more informed buying decisions. It also highlights FBN Price Transparency and other tools built into FBN Direct℠.
BP: How does FBN Direct make farming better for farmers?
JV: Growers are able to log on to FBN Direct and look up a chemical they may be interested in. They can also see what other options or alternative chemistries are available. If it's a product that FBN has for sale, our price will be right there for them. And if it's something we don't offer, they’ll be able to get a snapshot of what other growers in the area are paying for that product and ultimately make more informed purchase decisions.
With fair and transparent pricing, a grower can choose a similar active ingredient—often at a much lower cost and in a more usable package.
Download our free resource for buying ag chemicals
Managing pest pressure in your fields is a fact of life when you're farming; breaking the bank to do so doesn’t have to be part of your management strategy. Grab a free copy of our Ag Chemical Buying Guide to learn how you can make informed, cost-effective decisions when shopping for crop protection for your operation.