From plows to platforms: how Stripe is powering modern agriculture

In the face of new challenges, agriculture is adapting to become one of the fastest-growing industries on the internet.

Rooted in the earth and deep in tradition, farming might seem like the ultimate offline economy. But lately a new trend has emerged: agriculture has become one of the fastest-growing online industries, as farmers turn to the internet to sell produce, manage their money, and access critical financing. In 2021, thousands of agricultural businesses globally collectively processed over $1 billion through Stripe—and over the last two years, nearly 2,000 of them doubled their payment volume.

The companies behind this boom include Barn2Door, an online marketplace that connects growers directly with consumers, and Ambrook, which provides financial management software tailored to the needs of the farming community. Altogether, they’re giving new life to an old industry.

“A lot of producers have seen their margins squeezed over the past decade, without a clear answer for how they can organize their finances and grow their businesses more sustainably. By building with Stripe, however, we’re giving these producers the tools they need to diversify their revenue streams, expand their businesses, and, ultimately, become more resilient in the face of market shocks and economic headwinds,” said Mackenzie Burnett, chief executive officer of Ambrook.

Produce at your door

Farming has always been a hard business, but the challenges faced by farmers in recent years have been particularly acute: climate change, intensifying trade disputes, skyrocketing costs for fuel and fertilizer. And that was all before the COVID-19 pandemic erased $1.32 billion from the value of US agriculture in just two months.

But the closing of borders and businesses opened a door for farmers. Platforms like Barn2Door, which provides ready-to-go online stores for food producers, unlocked new revenue streams by making it simple for farmers to get their products directly to consumers.

For farmers like Ben W. in Florida, who uses Barn2Door to sell his brassicas, corn, cucumbers, greens, legumes, and other produce, this amounted to tens of thousands of dollars in new orders overnight.

“We didn’t know what to expect when we first opened our online store, but making that jump was a game changer for us. That first day we had over 100 orders, and by that first weekend, we were managing nearly 200—far more than we had expected. It’s safe to say setting up online helped keep us in business during the pandemic, but it’s also helped us continue to grow and reach new customers today,” said Ben.

And Ben is not alone. Today Barn2Door connects thousands of farms to more than half a million customers across all 50 states.

Financing for modern farms

As farmers continue to weather an uncertain economic climate and brace for a $15.5 billion decrease in government support payments, Ambrook is helping them find new sources of funding.

Ambrook was founded in 2020 during the height of the pandemic, with the mission to enable farms to become more profitable and sustainable. It allows farmers to set up money management accounts in minutes without having to go to a bank or wait weeks for approval. Farmers can have grants or government funding wired directly to their accounts, which they can then access with an Ambrook spend card.

Ambrook is powered by Stripe Banking-as-a-Service APIs including Stripe Issuing and Stripe Treasury. Over the last two years the company has helped US farmers successfully apply for over $7 million in grants. Ambrook is now expanding to offer bookkeeping and spend-management tools as well.

Companies like Ambrook, Barn2Door, and the thousands of farmers they support are important examples of how new financial infrastructure is helping traditionally offline industries build modern business models. In just the last two years, the number of agricultural businesses earning over $1 million annually through Stripe has tripled.

“This isn’t just about growing digital natives, or what we think of as ‘technology’ companies. Even some of the most traditionally offline sectors like agriculture are capitalizing on modern software tools to enable growth and build resilience,“ said Emily Glassberg Sands, head of data science at Stripe.

There’s no doubt new economic challenges will emerge, but as they do, internet tools can help businesses of any size, in any industry, find new fields to till.

Correction: June 2, 2022

This story has been revised to clarify that in 2021, agricultural companies globally processed more than $1 billion through Stripe.