Innovation Online Series: Thought Leaders on Regenerative Agriculture May 8, 2020 by Kate McDonough
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Investment and Infrastructure for Regenerative Agriculture

Gina Asoudegan, Vice President of Mission and Innovation at Applegate, covers what investments are needed to grow regenerative agriculture and explores different ways to think about and target investments to improve the whole system.

Gina Asoudegan Applegate

Why don’t we take the knowledge and access to infrastructure and distribution of a larger company, combined with the nimbleness and the new ideas of a startup, put the best of both worlds together, understand where the gaps exist and make that a safer investment for investors?

Towards Regenerative Dairy

Tina Owens, Senior Director of Food and Agriculture Impact at Danone North America, discusses the benefits of the cost-plus model the corporation utilizes in its relationships with family farms and the ongoing commitments across their brands’ supply chains.

Tina Owens Danone
[Horizon Organic’s carbon positive commitment covers] not just our employee greenhouse gas emissions or our manufacturing footprint or our consumer footprint. It goes all the way back to the seed in the field that grew the crop that went through the dairy that went through our facilities that went on a refrigerated truck that ends up in your refrigerator. It’s the entire breadth of our greenhouse gas footprint – which is massive.

Agroforesty & Industrial Crops

Eric Toensmeier, Director of the Perennial Agriculture Institute, explores the innovative materials, chemicals, and energy produced by industrial crops and describes the benefits of designing and scaling agroforestry systems.

Eric Toensmeier Perennial Agroforestry Institute

Not all regenerative practices are the same in their climate impact on a per acre or per hectare basis. Wherever we can incorporate woody plants, wherever we can perennialize, we can increase carbon sequestration potential, both on an annual basis and on the total maximum that you can store on a given piece of land.

Regenerative Fiber

Rebecca Burgess, Founder and Director of Fibershed, explains why the cotton crop isn’t the problem, why fashion has to contend with its colonial roots, and why the conversation about regeneration needs to be production-centered.

Rebecca Burgess

Sustainability conversations or regenerative conversations in the fashion industry have tended to come from “sustainability indexes” designed by people at the white-collar level or the upper end of the marketing side of the supply chain… Instead of certifications coming from brands and NGOs, how are we letting communities make decisions about what fashion looks like?

Advancing Regeneration: Principles & Outcomes

Steve Rosenzweig, Soil Scientist, and Jay Watson, Sourcing Sustainability Engagement Manager, at General Mills, reflect on their on-the-ground work with farmers and discuss why regenerative agriculture isn’t a panacea for climate change.

Steve Rosenzweig General Mills

Regenerative ag is not going to reverse climate change. We can’t take out all of the carbon we’ve ever emitted and we’re still emitting; we still have to focus on stopping emissions. But, when we look at the opportunities to fight and adapt to climate change, increase biodiversity, improve water, and improve farmer economic resilience, we believe regenerative ag is by far, the most promising strategy.

Jay Watson General Mills

Regenerative ag is about all these positive impacts, not just on climate. It’s about this whole ecosystem, including the people and the stewards of the land in the ecosystem. Regenerative ag is part of a total system driving the whole agriculture industry forward.

Regenerative Product Development

Jesse Smith, Director of Land Stewardship, and Lauren Tucker, Director of Product Development, at White Buffalo Land Trust, discuss what it takes to bring a regenerative product to market and if it makes sense to grow and scale a large portfolio.

Jesse Smith White Buffalo Land Trust

To be a regenerative system, there has to be diversity within that system, and with that comes a diversity of production out of that landscape. It’s always difficult for me to see the products and services of the crop separate from the crop and service of a holistic system. How do we start to incorporate those other elements into our product formulation, whether it be for flavor, medicinal purposes, or color?

Lauren Tucker White Buffalo Land Trust

I think something we forget about when we look at product development is the customer. They’re part of the same ecosystem as the farmer, as the distributor, as the retailer. The more you bring in the customers that you’re hoping to serve, the less you have to follow those hot trends.

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