MetaFarms volunteers

The MetaFarms team at Habitat for Humanity, one of its regular volunteer events.

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MetaFarms, Inc. coins itself as “the information platform for agriculture” and brings traceability and insights tracking through software solutions to more than one million sows and more than 40 million finish pigs annually in the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines.

Based out of Burnsville, Minnesota, this platform is expanding as they celebrate the recent acquisition of Swine Management Services (SMS) of Fremont, Nebraska.

“SMS is a leading, independent swine consulting company founded in 2002 by Ron Ketchem and Mark Rix,” said Brian Parker, MetaFarms chief operating officer (COO). “Their team has been working with platform solutions like MetaFarms for many years, creating benchmarking and farm analysis services for their customers. Combining our two entities adds a lot of synergy and additional value back to our customers.”

MetaFarms was founded in 2000 to provide swine production best practices in a daily newsletter service called Pork Net. Parker explained their company now has solutions for sow, grow/finish, sales, FEED management, flock, assurance and insights.

“Our business model evolved into multi-farm rollup reporting so producers could compare KPI (Key Performance Indicator) metrics across their production system, allowing them to focus on key improvement opportunities,” Parker said. “With the expansion of internet capabilities, MetaFarms leveraged this opportunity and was first to market with a comprehensive internet-based agriculture software platform for swine and flock.

“At this point, MetaFarms defined industry standards around data attributes and performance indicators/calculations. These standards allowed benchmarking to evolve, allowing producers to compare their own farms and see how they stack up across the industry.”

Parker added that the MetaFarms ag platform has become an “ecosystem” of information, which provides traceability across the supply chain and improves production efficiencies for its customers. As finding labor is sometimes difficult for farmers, Parker said, MetaFarms’ focus the past two years has been on data capture — using mobile applications and integrations to increase productivity and fill “empty shoes in the barn.”

By expanding these digital tools, Parker said they can provide daily information back to the farm, “helping them proactively manage resources with real-time data. In today’s world, even information that is just a few weeks old is outdated. Our business will continue to evolve as enhancements in technology keep improving.”

Parker also admitted that solutions don’t come without challenges.

“Creating effective technology solutions for facilities that don’t have cell phone coverage, nor time on their side, continues to challenge our team,” he said. “However, we take a hands-on approach to understand the workflow — or supply chain — so the workers spend most of their time caring for the animals, while our software solutions focus on collecting the data and finding efficiencies.”

He added that MetaFarms serves all producers, from small family farms to large, fully integrated producers, and they are motivated every day by the chance to help their customers improve their operations.

“Like with any business, having the right employees who have a passion for agriculture is our greatest asset,” Parker said adamantly. “We have a great balance of skillsets and knowledge, blending business acumen/operations and technology knowhow with experienced, on-farm pig knowledge resources. I find this balance allows us to challenge the norm, but also keeps our focus where it needs to be — providing sensible solutions.

“The icing on the cake is hearing from our customers that, ‘This totally makes sense and helps me manage my farm better.’”

Kerry Hoffschneider can be reached at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

Kerry Hoffschneider is a freelance writer for the Midwest Messenger, based in eastern Nebraska. Reach her at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.