Do sustainable farmland investments deliver financial, environmental and social returns? With the rise of impact investing, there has been a jump in investment strategies promoting sustainable agriculture. This research attempts to understand the strategies and performance of a subset of farmland investors focused on sustainability. The project included a literature review and a series of 15 interviews with leaders in the field of farmland investing. It appears that sustainable farmland investment managers are generally able to deliver financial, environmental and social returns. However, due to limited information, we are unable to define to what extent those returns are attributable to specific sustainable agriculture activities. The initial findings point to success with organic conversion, water efficiency, and grass-fed beef. This report explores investment performance, value drivers, management models, public incentives, case studies, project challenges, financial risks, and next steps for the industry. It is our hope that this report will serve as a basis for continued progress in the field of sustainable farmland investing.
This research was featured in the webinar "Investing in Sustainable Agriculture: Generating Returns from Environmentally-Responsible Managements" as part of the 2016-2017 season of Nature’s Returns: Investing in Ecosystem Services.