In the process of building Farm, many people have asked how and why I went all-in on climate in a new industry instead of continuing to work in music where I was comfortable. This post aims to bring clarity to that question, while highlighting parallels and sharing some of the lessons so far.
My career in the music industry was always focused on supporting artists. Along the way, I got to learn from Shawn Fanning of Napster, co-found a music payments company called Stem that has distributed hundreds of millions of dollars from streaming platforms to artists & teams, and watch iconic artists like Frank Ocean achieve a #1 album (Blonde) independently using the platform we built from scratch. Distribution was an unlocking layer in music that allowed us as a platform to collect data and earnings from the internet on behalf of creators to build a better experience.
Eight years ago driving across the United States, I got stuck in an unforgettable dust storm in Wyoming. This led to nearly a decade of research on the historic Dust Bowl that impacted 100 million acres of American land, and the surprising indicators that a second Dust Bowl is likely coming if we don’t do something about it. We started Farm to address this problem directly.
Rangelands, depicted in yellow, consist of over 500 million acres of privately-owned land in the United States. A surprising number of those acres are losing topsoil and biodiversity every year instead of improving. They are not reaching their full potential.
While this is happening, land is a major bottleneck for carbon and energy project developers attempting to reach gigaton-scale reductions in emissions. These developers have capital & technology, but struggle gaining access to compatible land at their desired pace.
This problem is a Great Opportunity.
Collective land ownership can be a lever for change, guaranteeing specific practices and clean energy technologies are implemented. Despite this strategic importance, land is an asset class that is hard to access and benefit from.
Many internet platforms have identified underutilized fixed assets, such as spare rooms in houses or backseats in cars. At Farm, we believe these acres are an important overlooked resource that will become even more valuable in the future.
Farmers & ranchers have unique skills that take a lot of time and effort to develop. Land stewardship is a difficult endeavor and every local ecosystem is unique. At Farm, we’re working with farmers and ranchers that care deeply about the health and productivity of the land, and want to expand the footprint of their operations to regenerate soil at scale. The difficult task ahead of restoring land and ecosystems can not be achieved by software alone, but technology can play an important role assisting experienced operators and investors in achieving their goals.
There are similar dynamics to the music industry when it comes to shared land equity in agriculture today. The lack of shared equity creates misaligned incentives between absentee landowners and land tenants that damages the land, environment, and potential long-term value.
Regenerative agriculture as a movement is growing with leaders like Regenerate America, Savory Institute, Land to Market, MAD Agriculture, and Quivira Coalition. However, the percentage of land with regenerative management today is a fraction of what's needed to reach climate targets.
Farm is a platform for investing in farmland regeneration.
Our mission is to increase the number of healthy and productive acres, and we are working towards that goal by streamlining investments into regenerative land management. Our investor community deploys capital to fund operations focused on soil health, decarbonization, and biodiversity. Farm structures investments to align incentives and meet investor & operator goals.
We’re excited to be working with some of the premier agricultural groups in the country, like Ranchlands, who manages over 300,000 acres of cattle and bison ranches in the American West with a track record of benefitting ecosystems they work in.
Land Data Platform
Farm is building a data platform to identify land parcels with potential for improved land use.
There are millions of acres for sale in the U.S. real estate market at most times, and increasing competition to find compatible parcels for agricultural use as well as carbon & energy project development. We are building technology that can help our operator network identify and run diligence on land they would like to work on, accelerating project creation and expansion.
We’re sharing learnings as we grow on our blog, including interviews with a variety of leading companies including Working Trees, FarmRaise, Future Forest, Iroquois Valley REIT, NRDC, Carbon Collective, Alts, Funga, and Grazing Lands and topics including agrivoltaics, animal agriculture, grazing on public lands, the Ogallala aquifer, what makes bison a keystone species, carbon offsets, soil carbon, basalt, impact investing, reforestation, recreational land use, and renewable energy in the West.
Farm is building a network of land, operators, and investors.
We’re excited about this growing network that improves with every acre of land, operator, and investor that joins.
We are working to provide integrated financial and ESG reporting that will enable investors to prove impact at scale with a combination of proprietary natural, financial, and market data. This reporting work will become essential as new standards like the SEC Proposed Rules to Enhance and Standardize Climate-Related Disclosures for Investors go into effect. These rules would require public companies to report on Scope 3 emissions, which are nearly 90% of the greenhouse gases emitted by agribusinesses since farms & ranches provide almost every raw product that goes into the food supply chain.
It’s not just one proposal. The United States shared A New National Strategy to Reflect Natural Assets on America’s Balance Sheet in August 2022. Natural capital is defined as the world's stock of natural resources, which includes geology, soils, air, water and all living organisms. Right now, there is a lot of focus on carbon. We are optimistic that in the future, measuring and rewarding for practices that increase biodiversity will become more prevalent and new entity types focused on valuing more aspects of nature like Natural Asset Companies (NACs) emerge.
There is a growing number of alternative asset investment platforms launching fractionalized ownership of commercial/residential real estate and art, and a variety of farmland investment REITs that offer liquidity, but no user experience to investors beyond annual reports.
We believe there is an opportunity to create a better experience.
If you’d like to learn more about Farm: