Why I Chose FBN®: Kit Barron, Head of Data Science Analytics

Melissa Niedrich

Mar 03, 2022

Our ‘Why I Chose FBN’ series features stories from employees across different roles, teams, and geographies on how they got to FBN, what it’s like to work here, and how their teams help fulfill our mission of putting Farmers First®.

When did you join FBN, what is your current role at FBN, where are you based, and what are your responsibilities? 

I joined FBN in Summer 2021, and I lead FBN’s Data Team. Our team is comprised of Data Analysts, Data Scientists, and Analytics Engineers. I live in San Francisco with my wife and two young kids.

What was your previous work experience before joining FBN

I’ve had a rather diverse career, but the desire to understand food and where it comes from is the consistent thread.

After college I worked in the international development space, designing policies that would have a positive impact on smallholder farmers and fishers. I went back to grad school to dive deeper into agricultural development economics.

After grad school, I started leaning more into the role innovative technologies could play in rural economies and have spent the past decade working on various technology startups focused on the food, fishery and agriculture spaces.

What did you first find compelling about FBN that led you to want to learn more? 

I’ve been a long time admirer of FBN’s. Bringing price transparency to ag inputs was truly revolutionary. I was working at an agtech subsidiary of the world’s largest seed company when FBN launched, covering competitive intel in the agtech space.

You could tell that FBN’s strategy to pull the curtains back on seed pricing schemes and introduce price transparency was radical and got under the skin of a lot of the seed execs who had spent decades building the incumbent model. When FBN launched its own seed products, you can imagine what the reaction was!

For me, though, it was the moment FBN announced it was rolling out a health care product for family farms that truly piqued my interest. I was on the product team then, spending a lot of my time on the road with farmers, trying to understand the big picture pain points in modern ag.

Health insurance kept popping up in conversations - these are often small businesses that struggle to keep on a couple of employees and the costs of providing health care was astronomical.

To me, FBN’s decision to offer health plans told me that FBN really understood the challenges of your average family farm and was willing to invest to address them. It was at that moment that I decided I had to go work for FBN.

Why did you ultimately decide to join FBN? What did this thought process look like for you? 

Now, while I had identified FBN as a place I wanted to work, it took several years before the timing and role were right. I had been periodically checking in with FBN’s VP of Product on interesting roles opening up in the company.

And when I was introduced to Matt Meisner, who shared FBN’s investment in a new centralized Data Team, I got really excited. I was working for a fast growing farmland investment startup at the time, so while it was hard to leave that awesome team, it was a no-brainer to join FBN.

Now that you’ve joined, how would you describe FBN’s culture and what it’s like to work here? 

Scrappy, collaborative, missionary, indomitable.

What kind of impact are you and your team having on the company’s future? 

I lead an incredibly talented group of Data Analysts and Data Scientists. I think we are working on some of the most impactful and interesting projects at FBN (then again, I’m biased!).

We are really lucky to be supporting all aspects of the business, from devising models that help farmers reduce their carbon footprint and anticipating crop disease outbreaks, to optimizing the location of supply depots and helping the Finance team track how many business lines each of our members interacts with. Out of all of that diverse work, we aim to build lasting capabilities that FBN will be leveraging for a long time to come.

How does FBN’s mission come to life in your day-to-day work? How does your work positively impact famers? 

My grandfather grew up on a popcorn farm in western Iowa. He left in the 30s for the east coast as he didn’t think there was a future for him in farming. In many ways, this is a story that repeats itself every generation.

I like to think what we are building at FBN is going to help the next generation of farm kids see a future for themselves on the farm, by giving them fair and transparent access to the products, information, tools and services they need to build successful, thriving farm businesses they can proudly pass on to their kids.

I’ve worked for several nominally ‘mission driven’ companies before. Missions that were emblazoned on the lobby wall and drilled into new recruits. But I’ve never worked for a company that truly lives and acts the mission of Farmers First.

On almost a daily basis I hear Farmers First referenced in guiding technology and business decisions, from the top of the organization on down. “Is this really farmers first?” is an ever present question that genuinely guides the decisions we make on a daily basis.

We know you have a life outside of work - what kinds of things do you do for fun? 

Being a dad to two young kids is a full-time job, and my life outside of work really revolves around them. We spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking, climbing trees, crabbing in the SF Bay and working on our small family apple orchard.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone considering FBN

This is the most dynamic, exciting place I’ve ever worked. If you like the mission, want to make a difference in the world and get inspired by hard problems, this is the place for you.

And if the job you're considering isn’t the perfect fit, just get your foot in the door! We are growing quickly in so many directions that this will be a place where any talented person can build a long-term, diverse career!

Learn more about joining FBN

Interested in learning more about FBN and opportunities to join our team?

Check out our Careers page for more information on open roles and how we’re transforming the future of farming!

Copyright © 2014 - 2022 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. The sprout logo, Farmers First flag logo, "Farmers Business Network," "FBN," and "Farmers First" are registered trademarks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc. or its affiliates. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Terms and conditions apply.

FBN does not offer traditional health insurance. But while we do not offer traditional health insurance, we do offer FBN Health. FBN Health is marketed by FBN Insurance LLC. FBN Insurance LLC is not a licensed insurance company or agency and its employees and representatives are not licensed life and health insurance agents. Policies marketed by FBN Health are level-funded group health benefit plans offered and administered by Benefit Plan Administrators, Inc. (“BPA”) and Employers Business Alliance (""EBA"") and available only where BPA and EBA are licensed."" If you submit the Get A Quote Form, a licensed insurance agent/producer may contact you on behalf of BPA or EBA.  You cannot obtain coverage under a health plan until you complete and submit an application for the plan and your application is approved and accepted by BPA or EBA.  Eligibility and benefit exclusions and limitations apply.

Melissa Niedrich

Mar 03, 2022

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