21 August 2001
Farmers bid to buy Farming Online

By FWi staff

A CONSORTIUM of farmers claims it has put forward a “substantial bid” to buy Farming Online, Britains oldest agricultural Internet portal.

The consortium, which involves a core of 80 producers, said it wants the portal to host farmer-groups that dont have their own web-based forums.

If the bid is successful, it also wants to develop a “clicks and mortar” strategy so users can use Farming Online to trade agricultural supplies on the Internet.

Consortium coordinator Antony Oliphant, of Aubourn Farming, declined to reveal the amount of money involved in groups buy-out proposals.

But it is understood that some of the 80 farmers involved in the consortium have agreed to invest up to 10,000 in their attempt to buy Farming Online.

Mr Oliphant confirmed: “We have put in a substantial bid.”

Farming Onlines present owners have claimed that the portal will move into profit this autumn if subscription sales and advertising rates are maintained.

But Mr Oliphant said he believed profitability was a long way off and that subscriptions would have to be increased to boost site revenue.

“We realise that increasing subscriptions is a contentious issue, but we believe it will be possible – especially if the site is farmer-owned,” he said.

“Our evaluation is that it will take three years to make a substantial profit.”

Founded in 1995, Farming Online claims to have 30,000 users. Owners FOL Networks are selling the site so they can concentrate on other business interests.