Curated top stories in Regenerative Agriculture, Business, and Investing • ethansoloviev.com
Global Land Degradation, Gucci Goes Regenerative, and Why Certifications Don’t Work…
Land Degradation – Image Credit Tomasz Stepinski, University of Cincinnati
Want to hear the audio highlights of this month’s news? Check out a new joint venture between Koen van Seijen and Ethan Soloviev, the Regeneration Newsroom Podcast!
New map of global environmental degradation in a peer-reviewed journal – important up-to-date information for arguments about WHY regenerative agriculture is important – Link
30 for 100: Savory launches a new global campaign to transform landscapes. Link
The four E’s: “ethos, economy, elegance and empowerment”. It’s been curious not to hear much from Joel Salatin in the recent hype around regenerative agriculture. Glad to see he’s making the rounds in North Dakota and beyond –Link (P.S. Joel Salatin and I will both be speaking at the 2019 Living Soil Symposium in Montreal – this will be an awesome event!)
These small but steady mentions of regenerative agriculture are important: Tri-state Livestock News (Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota) promotes the “Western Dakota Crops Day”, which focuses on “Regional agronomy research results, dealing with saline and sodic soils and the latest research on regenerative cropping systems…” Link
Glad to see Pipeline Foods getting Rabobank’s attention. Their notion of “regenerative” is from the ‘Soil Profits’ paradigm and is not particularly nuanced, but their work as a broker for organic commodities is great. Link
Land to Market™ takes another big step: first EOV™ (Ecological Outcomes Verification™) Wool goes to market in South Africa. I think this is important, and worth watching – what will the market say about ecologically net-positive practices?!? Link
Towards Regenerative (Luxury?!?) Fashion – Kering, who owns brands Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, and others, is teaming up with the Savory Institute to develop supply chains for grass-fed Land to Market™-verified leather and other raw materials. With most Gucci purses costing more than $2,300 USD, it would be great for some of that margin to support regenerative agriculture. Here’s the Kering Press Release, and more coverage from Sustainable Brands.
2 million chickens a week: Great and nuanced coverage by Civil Eats on Costco’s move to vertically integrate poultry production – and “RegeNErate Nebraska’s” opposition and proposed alternatives. Link
Also from RegeNErate Nebraska, check out this Resource Guide. As I’ve commented elsewhere, I think the use of “regenerative” to describe many of these organizations is dubious – they are and have been doing great work, but adding the word “regenerative” does not change much. On the other hand, I greatly appreciate the Native American voices and perspectives in this document – more dialogue and cooperative development with indigenous communities could be mutually beneficial for people working towards regeneration.
“Regenerative agriculture is actually a native concept.” –Vincent Bass, Winnebago Vice Chairman
Too good to be true? Nextfuel promises to replace fossil fuels with… Elephant Grass. While it may capture carbon, the whole pitch is from the “extract value” paradigm – there is no shift evident to regenerative thinking. But interesting nonetheless – watch the video! Link
This month on Investing in Regenerative Agriculture, Koen van Seijen interviews Chuck de Liedekerke of Soil Capital. I disagree with how he defines “regenerative ag”, but he’s taking an interesting approach with larger-scale growers. Link
“An Underground Insurgency: Regenerative Agriculture & Human Transformation” – Interview with Charles Massy, author of the number one regenerative agriculture book in Australia, “Call of the Reed Warbler“. Link
David Bronner on Food Tank – apparently Dr. Bronner’s has donated $8 million to regenerative organic agriculture, perhaps through the Regenerative Organic Alliance… Link
Fascinating podcast from John Kempf that breaks the mold of his agronomy-focused offerings – this one explores 5 characteristics of exceptionally successful farm managers. Very interesting. Link
Kyrgyzstan & Tajikistan: Unlikely locations for agroforestry? It’s actually been here for thousands of years. This duo of articles highlights the practical application of integrated tree crops for land restoration in arid mountain climates: The Innovative Polyculture Farmers of Tajikistan and the Apple-Walnut Forests of Kyrgyzstan
“Profit changes minds” – I love the no-nonsense practical points made here. Not all the farming described is regenerative, but it’s aiming in that direction, and go figure – it’s more profitable. Link
“Ghanaian Farmer Urges Others to Adopt Regenerative Dynamic Agroforestry” – the clearest explanations come from farmers on the ground – Link.
Are there trees in your carbon sequestration plan? Regenerative agriculture focused on soil just can’t keep up – Link
Source – Negative Emissions and Land-Based Carbon Sequestration, Rocky Mountain Institute
Why Certifications Don’t Work Are you considering one of the new “regenerative” certifications for your product or business? Read this first – a comprehensive dismantling of the underlying reasoning behind certifications. There’s a podcast too if you want to listen. Link
“Value Change in the Value Chain” – New guidance for corporations to track Scope 3 greenhouse gas emissions. Put out by the Gold Standard and Science-Based Targets Initiative, there’s just a few small companies who have signed on to try it out – Mars, Danone, Barry Callebaut, Ben & Jerry’s, Cargill, General Mills, L’Oréal, McDonald’s, PepsiCo and Target 😉 Link and here’s a Sustainable Brands article with a faster overview: Link
Part of the preceding release but worth it’s own note: Value Change /Gold Standard has realeased a 40-page document to help make decisions about how to design and quantify projects that aim to change Soil Organic Carbon (aka carbon farming, or as most people mis-label it, regenerative agriculture). Nothing ground-breaking, but organized with precision and clarity. Link
Forbes – “How Investing In Regenerative Agriculture Can Help Stem Climate Change Profitably” – (I’m not sure what “stem climate change’ means;) We’ve already covered the Ecosystem Service Valuation Report and the other key farm profitability study cited (NOT regenerative agriculture, despite their use of the term), but if you’re interested to learn more about the Farmland LP Business Model this is not a bad little video to watch. Link
Fast Company – Exclusive interview with Patagonia’s Yvon Chouinard. Urgency and action are front and center. Regenerative Agriculture is touted, but primarily related to a project in India growing cotton… this is a very very difficult crop to produce with a regenerative effect. Perhaps the folks running the project (Metawear / RESET) can provide more information? Link
If we have just 11 more harvests to transition the global agrifood system, this 2.8 million ha project in Fiji is not a bad example of how we can organize multi-sectoral financing for regenerating landscapes. Link
Government & Policy
US Farm bill passes with bipartisan support, miraculously containing a new program that will focus on soil health and soil carbon sequestration. Coming from an unlikely coalition of the NRDC, National Corn Growers Association, American Coalition for Ethanol, and Environmental Entrepreneurs, this provision is the best thing I’ve heard about a farm bill in more than a decade. Link
Punjab cabinet approves policies for… Regenerative Agriculture? Link
“How Regenerative Agriculture Could Be Key to the Green New Deal” – Brief high-level policy article, decent, though coming mostly from the ‘Rodale Organic’ lineage and missing the (mostly conventional, industrial, large-scale) farmers who are quickly growing a “regenerative agriculture” that works for them. Link
Here’s a great example of government getting out of the way and supporting citizens to craft their own food systems. And it’s a boon for small business. Will more lawmakers follow Maine’s example? Link
COP24 concludes with a lowest-common-denominator agreement, but an agreement nonetheless. Not a lot of agriculture-specific discussions that I saw covered, though these two side-events each brought their own angle on soil carbonization to “Speed up the cool down”: CGIAR Event and IFOAM / Biovision / Regeneration International / Shumei
Special Section on Blockchain
Report: Navigating Blockchain and Climate Action. Interesting report, a bit more restrained than most of what’s coming out of the blockchain community but highlighting some clear characteristics and opportunity areas. If you read the full report and have deeper analysis to share, let me know. Link
Industrial agriculture digital farm operations carbon market blockchain mashup – Nori (decentralized carbon markets on the blockchain) announces a new partnership with Granular (farm management software bought by DuPont in 2017). I’m very interested to see what comes from this, and which of Granular’s users will want tiptoe in the carbon markets. Link: “Turning Carbon Into a Cash Crop”
Excellent new video from Regen.Network: “The Balance Sheet for Earth”. Regen is a decentralized ledger technology designed to track positive changes to ecological systems. Link
“We’re reinventing the economics of agriculture by realigning short term economic gains with long-term ecological health” – Regen.Network CEO Gregory Landua
Ethan Soloviev’s big-picture interpretation of this month’s news:
Many of this month’s stories came to life for me at the Regenerative Earth Summit, where I spoke along with major brands like Patagonia, Kashi, Applegate, Eileen Fisher, and The North Face. To here my reflections from the event, you’ll have to listen my discussion with Koen van Seijen – available for free at the new Regeneration Newsroom Podcast!
– Ethan Soloviev
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