Incentivizing Sustainable Farming Practices

Incentivizing Sustainable Farming Practices

Consumers are demanding sustainability, to the point that animal agriculture itself has become a divisive industry, as Angel Au-Yeung writes for Forbes. As factory farming has become more controversial, there has been innovation in animal production and farming techniques – including plant-based meat alternatives.
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Consumers Want Sustainability
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But consumers are not satisfied: they want more from retailers, more information to establish sustainable sourcing of animal proteins. They want to know whether, and to what degree, their purchases contribute positively to the overarching goal of creating an environmentally responsible food supply chain | Learn more on Commonshare |.
Retailers are eager to contribute. Burger King and McDonald’s, for example, have plant-based burger options. However, there is a gap in knowledge, since the global animal agricultural supply chain is complex and byzantine.
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The Environmentally Sourced Retailers Certification Program
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This is where the Environmentally Sourced Retailers Certification Program comes in. The idea was born out of the Forbes AgTech Hackathon last weekend. A team that spanned from Indianapolis to Bangalore, India, including three entrepreneurs – Chandler Chapman, Mallikarjun Malkiodeyar and Evan Wheeler – identified an information and accountability gap between retailers and producers.
Their aim: fill that gap with a program that will bring capital investment from corporations, which can then be used to propel and maintain sustainable farming practices without sacrificing quality, efficiency, and profits for the producers.
As Chapman explains, they wanted “to focus on where we could get the quickest impact.”
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Sustainability Certification
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One example they suggested was for McDonald’s. In the scenario, McDonald’s would pay $20 million to obtain a sustainability certification | Learn more on Commonshare |, with an annual $12 million fee to keep the certification.
They mapped out where the funds would go: 40% toward implementing manure digesters in feedlots in their supply chain.
The digesters can take methane, a notable greenhouse gas that is emitted from animal manure and convert it into clean energy.
Another 20% could go to cover the cost of mark-ups that slaughterhouses would have to implement for grass-fed producers, thereby lowering the barriers for these producers to enter the supply chain.
Another 10% could go toward research into which crops best neutralize carbon emissions in farm animals. Finally, the remainder can go toward running operations in the program.
The team understands that there are many ways to contribute to sustainability, and the certification program | Learn more on Commonshare | will be a platform and marketplace for retailers and producers to work toward new solutions.
Troy Hawkins, energy systems expert from Argonne National Laboratory and mentor of the team, explains that if the team can get retailers to “capture the value and distribute it in a way that both relieves them of the pressure of having to monitor everything in the supply chain, that creates the opportunity for an interested investor to take over responsibility while understanding how their money went towards realizing effective sustainability.”

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