June 21, 2024

We Need to Rethink How We Work with Farmers

June 21, 2024

We Need to Rethink How We Work with Farmers

June 21, 2024

We Need to Rethink How We Work with Farmers

June 2024

We Need to Rethink How We Work with Farmers

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Opinion Piece: We Need to Rethink How We Work with Farmers

Following my recent visit to Tree-Range® Farms, a regenerative chicken farm in Minnesota run by Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, I realised we need to rethink how we work with and ask for data from farmers.

Here’s why:

  • Regenerative agriculture is nothing new: It draws on agricultural practices and wisdom that have been around for millennia. Advocates for these age-old techniques argue that we don’t need scientific verification to make regenerative farming work, they know it works. Verification should be used to understand how it works and to refine practices in a place- and soil-specific context.
  • “Carbon sequestration” won’t resonate with farmers: Farmers care about soil health, water stewardship and drought resilience, not carbon sequestration. Carbon sequestration should be positioned as a by-product of adopting practices that promote soil health, which improves yields and resilience, securing future incomes.

Data collection and sharing are often viewed as an added burden to farmers. Maybe they wouldn’t feel this way if they also derived value from the data-sharing process.

I’ve seen CPG companies deliver value in exchange for data in a few successful ways:

  • Farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange: Farmers trust farmers. CPGs can play a role in bringing together growers of similar crops in similar soils, fostering communities for knowledge sharing. Trialling new practices collectively builds confidence amongst farmers that they are proven to work.
  • Share benchmarking data: Farmers, and suppliers more generally, know CPGs will benchmark them against peers, so why shouldn’t they be able to do the same? Providing data to farmers that allows them to see how their outputs compare to other farmers will promote greater engagement and action.
  • Request only what you need: Ask yourself: what is the information that I really need to be able to make decisions and verify impact? Farmers will appreciate this and are far more likely to engage if: 1) the request is concise and 2) they understand why the data is needed.

You might notice that financial incentives are missing from this list. Of course, payment is one way to encourage farmers to share data with you. Still, CPGs would be foolish to miss opportunities for building value beyond financial value with their farmers, particularly if the end goal is for these regenerative systems to thrive and percolate to the masses.

By Bethany Jones, Sustainability Manager at Altruistiq


  • Webinar: Setting Up a Successful Carbon Price, Wednesday 26th June, 3-3.45 pm (BST). Register here.

Industry insight: Universal Primary Data is Not Going to Get you to Net Zero

Universal primary data is not going to get you to net zero.

Whilst some advocate for universal primary data, others think universal secondary data is the answer.

I think it depends on what you want to do with the data:

  • Primary data is needed when you want to invest in change and reward a certain supplier. There, you need primary data to demonstrate the money is well spent.
  • Secondary data is good enough for the majority of reporting use cases and for individual purchases. There's a lot of room for improvement even within secondary data.

Policy Pulse: The UK Snap Election: “Sustainable” Party Offerings Unpacked

As the climate rises on the electorates’ voting agenda, green offerings are coming in thick and fast. But what are these offerings and how do they compare? It’s all to play for…

The offerings:

  • 🔵 Conservative Party: commits to Net Zero by 2050, proposing continued renewable, nuclear energy (trebling offshore wind capacity) and decarbonisation investments (investing in two carbon capture and storage clusters). They’re looking to bolster a “home-grown energy transition”, with a £1.1 billion Green Industries Growth Accelerator investment supporting British manufacturing. Similar to the Lib Dem’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, the Conservatives promise an Import Carbon Pricing Mechanism to protect high-emitting UK products from overseas competition by levelling the carbon price.

Concerns: over their ruling out of any further green levies and their commitment to oil & gas annual licensing rounds. While they’ve promised a new gigawatt power plant in North Wales, their timeline for delivery is questionable given existing projects such as Hinkley Point are expected over a decade late and £17 billion over budget (Lawson, The Guardian).

  • 🔴 Labour Party: focuses on clean energy independence and significant emission reductions by 2030. The £8.3 billion investment and establishment of “Great British Energy”, a publicly-owned company, looks to be their answer to slashing bills, green investments and clean, local energy. This falls into their Green Prosperity Plan and National Wealth Fund, where Labour say they will transition to a low-carbon economy, creating 650,000 green jobs and decarbonising energy-intensive sectors.

Concerns: nurturing of existing North Sea oil and gas licenses and the Green Prosperity Plan investment initially pledged, appears in reality to fall short of £140bn (Ball, The Newstatesman).

  • 🟡 Liberal Democrats: target the expansion of renewable energy capacity and efficient homes (including zero-carbon new homes and free heat pumps), enhanced public transportation and the promotion of sustainable agriculture and reforestation to meet their net-zero 2045 commitment. The Lib Dems also look to boost the UK’s global climate change status, whilst upping international development spend. Locally, governmental departments hope to empower local councils and citizens to implement climate strategies.

Concerns: is the emphasis on local pushing the problem onto the people and another example of the paper straws that ‘will’ save our planet? Additionally, i’m left wondering how they are planning to financially support, unburden and upskill farmers into a sustainable agriculture transformation?

  • 🟢 Green Party: proposes net zero by 2030 (the most ambitious date yet), with a carbon tax on fossil fuel imports and domestic extraction (set to raise an additional £80 billion). They see oil and gas subsidy removals to fund the shift to the green economy. They have proposed a £19 billion public transport investment with train/bus subsidies. Another point of note is their intended investment into the conservation of local food systems and biodiversity. Plus, public ownership of water companies aims to clean up our waterways.

Concerns: community ownership of local sustainable energy infrastructure will face barriers to entry when pushing for government funding. Also given the aviation sector’s lobbying prowess, I’m not banking on a domestic flight ban anytime soon.

  • 💠 Reform UK: takes a deregulatory approach by prioritising energy security and affordability through the nationalisation of key utilities by 50%, which is certainly at the forefront of the electorate’s minds. This means the scrapping of the UK’s net zero targets with supposed annual savings of £20 billion for the following 25 years.

Concerns: Their promotion of energy security is thrown into question when you consider the advancements they suggest in methane-releasing shale gas exploration. They also intend to remove £10 billion annual renewable energy subsidies and “climate-related farming subsidies” 🫣

Across the board, the focus is on renewable energy and energy independence (unsurprising given the fossil price hikes after the start of the war in Ukraine). Industry leaders knees deep in FLAG reporting may find the respective Conservative and Lib Dem’s extra £1 billion for sustainable farming interesting. My head is certainly turned at the Green’s pledge to triple farmer funding, improve soil and the link to “farm payments (…) to reduced use of pesticides and other agrochemicals”.

Although the differences between party offerings appear minimal, if there is a key takeaway for the likes of you and me, it would be to look into the local policies that can realistically transform our energy and food systems to offer localised resilience and affordability.

It’s easy to get lost in the maelstrom of manifestos… My advice… keep an eye on the intended financial flows suggested to assist the green transition and see if they align with the promises being put on the table.

By Frankie Musson, Sustainability Impact Advisor at Altruistiq

Read more:

Conservative Manifesto 2024

Labour’s Manifesto 2024 - Make Britain a clean energy superpower

Liberal Democrats’ Manifesto 2024

Green Party Manifesto 2024

Reform Party Contract Contents

Client Earth - UK Manifesto: General Election 2024

Other News

  • 🟢 Green losses in the EU parliament elections (Guardian): Exit polls suggest support for the Greens fell in Germany and France, raising concerns about EU climate policies. Despite this, the EU’s Green Deal package would prove to be “hard to undo” stated Reuters.
  • 👎 COP Flop Round 2 (or is it 3,4,5?) (Guardian): The COP29 Presidency is facing questions over both its commitment and competency in seeing through a successful outcome in Baku. It’s pushing the idea of “COP for Peace” but it seems paradoxical given they are cracking down on media and civil society at home. Baku is facing questions about how it will protect civil society and stop the talks from being co-opted by the fossil fuel sector.
  • 🐺 The return of the wolf (The Irish Times): Wolf populations are “making a comeback” in Europe thanks to wildlife protection measures introduced by the EU. The number of wolves has grown 81% since 2012, to more than 20,000. However, we’re left wondering if this trajectory will last. In December, Ursula Von Der Leyen’s conservative party backed a proposal to downgrade the protected status of wolves and last week, the EU Council of Agricultural Ministers heard calls for more to be done to address the rise in wolf attacks on livestock.
  • 🇵🇦 Panama relocates island community due to sea level rise: “We are the first country to relocate an entire island community” Panama said during the Oceans Dialogue which has been discussing the impacts of climate change on coastal communities, cities, supply chains and sea level rise.

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