It can be tricky to understand which conservation practices or ecosystem services would work best on a farmer’s land: grazing, cover crops, agroforestry, adding windmills or solar panels, a mix of these and more? And then from there, how does one get the upfront capital to implement these practices or understand how exactly they’ll be paid for their efforts. Plus, altering the way a farm has operated—sometimes for generations—is often not a quick, seamless decision or execution. So where does a farmer interested in ecosystem services even start? A great place to begin is by learning why conservation practices are so beneficial in the first place—both how they improve the long-term health of the farm, surrounding ecosystems and nearby communities and how they can produce cost savings. We cover a lot of this in Edible-Alpha® podcast #100, which presents our recent “Enhancing Farm Revenues with Conservation Practices & Ecosystem Services” webinar featuring FFI founder Tera Johnson, now of Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT. Next, farmers should gain a keen understanding of their land to see which types of practices would even be possible to implement. Inventory the natural and material assets, such as croplands, grasslands, water features, forests, structures and equipment. Zoning maps and Google Earth can help farmers get a more accurate lay of the land. Then comes thinking about goals for the farm and crafting a plan. Here’s where farmers may want to enlist some help from a conservation specialist, either from the USDA, the local conservation district or an independent consultancy. Another key player is the NRCS which houses programs like EQIP (Environmental Quality Incentive Program) These experts can help assess the options and determine which practices both make sense for the farm and are potential candidates for compensation. FFI is also a great resource. We can help farmers navigate their options and connect with the right technical assistance, so please don’t hesitate to reach out!
We brought Tera back to the podcast! Tune in to hear Andy’s discussion with FFI’s founder, now CEO of Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT, to learn about the various conservation practices and ecosystem services available to farmers. They talk through the benefits, both ecological and financial, of different programs and how compensation works. This podcast provides excellent information for any farmer interested in helping the environment while helping their bottom line.
And now, our roundup of the best food and beverage finance news, events and resources from around the web…
Business Model Insights
- How to avoid common pitfalls of surveying (New Hope Network)
Too many food brands spend big money to conduct surveys—only to gather few helpful insights. The usual culprits are flawed methodology, murky objectives or leaps in logic.
- After a tumultuous two years, restaurants are refashioning themselves as DTC brands (Modern Retail)
- How Sustainable Food Brands Can Build Trust (AgThentic)
- 3 reasons agriculture is poised for a surge of sustainable innovation (Fast Company)
To transition to more sustainable practices, farmers need better policy, better tech and more access to capital. All could be coming soon.
- What to do now if your goal is to sell your company (New Hope Network)
- Op-ed: We Should Build Back Better to Expand Conservation Funding and Climate Resilience (Civil Eats)
- Food companies could see $3 billion in monthly sales vanish, as low-income households get squeezed (CNBC)
Shoppers who get federal food assistance have fueled double-digit growth for retailers and food manufacturers over the past year, but are now under growing pressure to stretch those dollars, according to market research firm IRI.
- Where is construction taking place in the food and beverage industry? (Food Dive)
- Natural preservatives get fresh look amid clean label push (Food Dive)
- Natural shoppers prioritize simple holiday experiences, but COVID-19 still looms (New Hope Network)
New survey data reveals some staggering differences between natural food shoppers’ plans, priorities and concerns heading into the holidays and those of conventional grocery shoppers.
- Holiday shortages push consumers to shop earlier, explore alternative stores, categories (FoodNavigator-USA)
- This Year’s Thanksgiving Feast Will Wallop the Wallet (The New York Times)
Farming and AgTech
- Losing Danone Contracts Compounds the Dairy Crisis for Small Farms in the Northeast (Civil Eats)
‘It’s not a move to bigger farms,’ Danone says, as 89 small organic remain in limbo. Now, companies and policymakers are trying to chart a path to a sustainable future for the industry.
- Op-ed: Fix the School Supply Chain by Empowering Independent Family Farmers and Ranchers (Civil Eats)
- Climate change expected to impact the world’s wheat and corn crops by 2030, NASA says (USA Today)
- Once-hot food and beverage IPOs lose their sizzle as investor enthusiasm fades (Food Dive)
A review of 13 companies that have gone public since July 2020 through traditional IPOs or mergers with SPACs show all but one of the listings are trading below where they first came to market.
- Soli Organic Announces $120 Million in New Financing to Expand Indoor Soil-Based Farms (The Spoon)
- Eat Well Group to Acquire Majority Stake in Amara Plant-Based Baby Food Company (VegConomist)
- Iowa Organic Conference: 11/28–11/29 in Iowa City, IA
- NOSH Live Winter: 11/30–12/1 in Santa Monica, CA
- Midwest Food Products Association 2021 Annual Convention & Processing Crops Conference: 11/30–12/2 in Wisconsin Dells, WI
- Organic & Non-GMO Forum: 12/1–12/2 in Minneapolis, MN
- Organic Grower Summit: 12/1–12/2 in Monterey, CA
- BevNET Live Winter 2021: 12/6–12/7 in Santa Monica, CA
- CSS & Seed Expo: 12/6–12/9 in Chicago, IL
- ACRES USA Eco-Ag Conference & Trade Show: 12/6–12/9 in Cincinnati, OH
- Intertribal Agriculture Council Annual Conference: 12/7–12/9 in Las Vegas, NV
- Plant Based World Conference & Expo: 12/9–12/10 in New York, NY
- Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance Organic Intensives: 1/8 in East Lansing, MI