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Where I Come From: Facebook Marketplace has become a hub for my family to buy and sell machinery, farm supplies and grain handling equipment.

Betty Haynes

February 29, 2024

4 Min Read
A close-up of a person holding a smartphone while he sits behind the wheel of a vehicle
APP: Increased farmer activity on Facebook Marketplace may be in response to today’s volatile ag environment. Betty Haynes

“That’s too cheap, we need to go get those right now,” my brother, Mark Thomas, uttered in the winter of 2021.

Fertilizer prices were starting their historic climb, and in response, our family farm decided to purchase and apply wholesale fertilizer.

But one problem — where would we store thousands of gallons of liquid fertilizer?

That’s when my brother stumbled across a Facebook Marketplace listing for 24 fertilizer tanks, well under market value. The listing had been posted only hours prior. He messaged the seller, who had recently purchased a building that housed the tanks with no use for the tanks themselves.

“I immediately got in my truck and headed that way,” Mark recalls. “They were nearly new. I wrote him the check that day.”

The best part? Compared to buying new, our family farm saved over $50,000 on that one purchase.

Facebook comes to the farm

Facebook Marketplace launched in 2016 to connect buyers and sellers across the platform. In the last eight years, it’s also become a hub for farmers to buy and sell machinery, farm supplies and grain handling equipment.

But why? And what does this have to do with the farm? To answer, I went to my family members:

Dan. My husband is 29 years old and began using Marketplace in 2018 via my Facebook account.

Mark. My brother is 27 years old, has been a Facebook user for nearly a decade, and started using Marketplace when it launched in 2016.

Kevin. My dad is 58 years old and got a Facebook account in 2020 just to use Marketplace.

Why do you use Facebook Marketplace?

Dan: As a young farmer, high equipment prices are a barrier to entry on the farm. Facebook Marketplace gives us access to tools that otherwise would be priced by a dealer.

Mark: For me it’s more about finding cheap, random stuff that I couldn’t find anywhere else. I keep a running list of things we need on the farm so I’m ready when things pop onto my feed.

Kevin: When I got started farming, the options for purchasing equipment were dealers, public sales and newspaper ads. Today, the internet has totally changed the equipment buying game, especially Marketplace.

What are the benefits?

Dan: Both the seller and the buyer can benefit. As a buyer, I have access to wholesale pricing. As a seller, I avoid the 5% to 10% commission and advertise for free to all of North America. Plus, I can continue using my machinery until it sells.

Mark: I can ask the previous owner questions about the piece of equipment I’m buying. To me, there’s less risk buying from Marketplace compared to an online auction, with just as good or better prices. Obviously, buying from a dealership is the least risky, but also the most expensive.

Kevin: We can draw from such a wide net on Marketplace — you can see any piece of equipment listed, anywhere you’re willing to travel. That’s a huge change from equipment ads in your local newspaper.

Are there any downsides?

Dan: Marketplace drives materialism because you’re always looking at what you could have. Even if what I have is working, FB Marketplace is constantly in my face like a drug. If I keep scrolling, I’ll find that one thing that’s the answer to all my problems.

Mark: The listings are first come, first serve, so it’s easy to get fixated on finding that perfect thing. You also have to make sure you have the right trucks and trailers before committing to bigger pieces of equipment.

Kevin: It all comes down to service. The price advantage comes with the gamble of bringing home junk. Internet competition is also tough on our local implement dealers, who need to pay for employees and buildings.

Do you have any recommendations for navigating Facebook Marketplace deals?

Dan: Do your research to know what you’re buying. A quick Google search will generally tell you about the common issues with that piece of equipment.

Mark: Don’t let the price give you rose-colored glasses. You have to be willing to walk away if what you fall in love with is actually junk.

Kevin: If you’re willing to travel and able to fix things, you can save some serious money for your farm. Also, beware of scammers.

Farmers on Facebook Marketplace is one of many examples of farmer ingenuity. Just like our family in the winter of 2021, farmers are experts at finding innovative solutions to unique problems. Although inputs are high and new crop prices are low, we still need equipment and supplies to operate.

What do you think of Facebook Marketplace? Email [email protected].

About the Author(s)

Betty Haynes

Betty Haynes is the associate editor of Prairie Farmer. She grew up on a Menard County, Ill., farm and graduated from the University of Missouri. Most recently, Betty worked for the Illinois Beef Association, entirely managing and editing its publication.

She and her husband, Dan, raise corn, soybeans and cattle with her family near Oakford , Ill., and are parents to Clare.

Betty won the 2023 Andy Markwart Horizon Award, 2022 Emerging Writer, and received Master Writer designation from the Ag Communicators Network. She was also selected as a 2023 Young Leader by the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists.

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