Owner and Operator, Flying Farmer LLC
Brandon Batten formed Flying Farmer LLC in 2017. Brandon is a graduate of NC State University, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in biological and agricultural engineering. Brandon started using drone technology after receiving an NC AgVentures grant from NC State and the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to purchase a drone for his family farm. After seeing the benefits and value that the drone could add to their operation, Brandon started Flying Farmer LLC to make this technology available to other farmers. Being a farmer himself, Brandon understands every facet of crop production and can relate to other farmers and their operations, and he helps interpret the data that the drone provides. In addition to operating Flying Farmer LLC, Brandon farms with his father and uncle at Triple B Farms, Inc. in southern Johnston County. They produce flue-cured tobacco, soybeans, small grains, corn, hay, and cattle.
In 2019, Brandon and his wife, Jessica, were selected as the 2019 National Outstanding Young Farmers of the Year at the 63rd annual National Outstanding Young Farmers Awards Congress. The winners were selected from a group of ten finalists for the award based on their progress in an agricultural career, extent of soil and water conservation practices, and contributions to the well-being of the community, state, and nation.
Starting a new digital business, even in the industry you were born into, takes all forms of trust. By their very nature, family farmers are a special breed. Every year they deal with numerous external pressures—including weather, pests, water (or lack of it), politically motivated trade policies, and government regulations— that would cause most other company leaders to throw in the towel. Yet farmers don’t quit in the face of these pressures because they have a particular attachment to their land, and they aspire to a much higher goal—making sure the land can forever produce the products that will feed this nation. To convince these people to invest their hard-earned profits in a whole new way of managing their land using drones and digital imagery can be a tough sell. Nevertheless, that is what entrepreneur Brandon Batten intends to do.