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SAN CARLOS, Calif. & SIOUX FALLS, S.D.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. (FBN℠), the leading direct-to-farm ag tech platform and farmer network, today announced that Ron Shaich, founder and former Chairman and long-time CEO of Panera Bread, has invested in the company and will join its Board of Directors as an independent director.

Today, Shaich, personally and through his investment vehicle Act III Holdings, is directing a range of long term strategic investments in consumer facing growth companies. Shaich is highly-respected for his ability to recognize and capitalize on extraordinary market opportunities. In addition to founding Panera, earlier in his career, he co-founded and grew Au Bon Pain, helping establish the bakery-cafe segment and ultimately the fast casual segment of the restaurant industry. The result: Panera generated annualized returns in excess of 25% over the last two decades of Shaich’s tenure, and delivered a total shareholder return 44 times better than the S&P 500 from July 18, 1997 to July 18, 2017.

“I’m a huge proponent of supporting and investing in companies that have a long-term perspective and are transforming entire industries,” said Shaich. “FBN is the most exciting and important ag tech company in the world and I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to work with the team. Having worked in the food industry all my life, I’m inspired by the FBN mission to improve the profitability of family farmers around the world, especially right now, given that many of them are struggling to survive.”

Shaich chairs or sits on the boards of Cava/Zoes, Tatte, Clover Food Lab, Level 99 and Life Alive Organic Cafe. He is a co-founder of No Labels and formerly served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Clark University and on the boards of Whole Foods Market Inc.

“We’re excited to bring Ron’s wealth of experience to our board,” says Amol Deshpande, CEO and Co-Founder of FBN. “Ron is a groundbreaking entrepreneur and CEO who built one of the most successful public companies in history, and his food industry background will translate well to serving the ultimate entrepreneurs: farmers.”

Adding Shaich to the Board follows the announcement Monday that FBN had closed $250 million in Series F funding. The round was led by funds and accounts managed by BlackRock Inc., with participation from new investors Baron Capital Group, Balyasny Asset Management LP, Mandi Ventures, Lupa Systems and Ron Shaich. Existing investors DBL Partners, Temasek, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., GV, Expanding Capital, and Kleiner Perkins also took part in the funding. Certain funds managed by Fidelity Investments Canada ULC and affiliates also participated in the financing.

About FBN:

Farmer’s Business Network, Inc. is an independent ag tech platform and farmer-to-farmer network with a mission to power the prosperity of family farmers around the world, while working towards a sustainable future. Its Farmers First® promise has attracted over 12,000 members to the network with a common goal of maximizing their farm’s profit potential. FBN has set out to redefine value and convenience for farmers by helping reduce the cost of production and maximize the value of their crops.

The FBN network has grown to cover more than 40 million acres of member farms in the U.S., Canada and Australia. Blending the best of Midwestern agricultural roots and Silicon Valley technology, the company has over 600 personnel and offices in San Carlos, Calif., Chicago, Ill., Sioux Falls, S.D., a Canadian Headquarters in High River, Alberta and an Australian Headquarters in Perth.

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Keith Chapman

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