There may be no hotter topic in agriculture today than ‘regenerative’ agriculture. Food companies, investors, multinational institutions and governments are making pledges to invest billions of dollars in regenerative agriculture. Yet in the midst of a stream of funding and interest, farmers themselves are being left behind. Whether its outdated funding structures, cultural disconnects, or outsized expectations, both investors and farmers have struggled to find the right partner for their goals.
This issue brief examines the varying definitions of regenerative agriculture, and proposes our own as a foundation for financing regenerative farms. It then details the three types of factors that make financing regenerative agriculture difficult: outdated financial models; difficult financial returns; and cultural differences between farmers and investors. Throughout, it highlights the innovative organizations attempting to overcome these barriers and the novel methods they employ and ends by considering a few promising approaches for the future. The enthusiasm for regenerative agriculture is fully warranted, but without thoughtful investment the movement will fall short.
We hope that this issue brief will inspire this thoughtful investment, and help finance professionals discover new partnerships to help farmers, the planet, and their communities thrive.
Published February 2024