Published: Oct. 23, 2022 By

The agriculture and food industry is seeing a shift from conventional to regenerative agriculture.The issue is not a future one. Droughts, soil degradation and irregular temperatures are negatively impacting our food system today, inhibiting farmers and growers from normal crop production, all while struggling to make a living. At Leeds, we are working to prepare future business leaders to support this critical shift.

Taylor and Rita at Regen Ag Conference 2022Taylor Dewitt, CESR Program Coordinator, attended the recent Regenerative Food Systems Investment Forum, a conference that “aims to catalyze conversation, advance education, and drive increased investment in regenerative agriculture and food.” Taylor joined investors, capital activators, advocates, students, and more for fruitful discussions focused on creating an equitable and sustainable food system.

Key Takeaways

“Regenerative agriculture is the most compelling investment opportunity ever,”

says Darren Baccus, Managing Partner, Biome Capital

Large corporations, agriculture companies and investment firms, are transitioning away from conventional agriculture as part of approach to risk management. In the process, they are decreasing emissions, sequestering more carbon than ever before, and encouraging racial equity.

Experts from companies such as General Mills and McCain shared several projects currently underway that are catalyzing the transition in their companies away from conventional agriculture. These projects are driven in part by the financial and productivity implications of climate change. One common theme among presenters at the event was the idea that regenerative agriculture might serve as a "life raft" for both big and small agriculture in the face of climate risk.

What investors are looking for

Darren Baccus, Managing Partner at Biome Capital, started out the conference by proposing that the resiliency, efficiency, and predictability of regenerative agriculture is an impressive incentive for investors who are looking for a return on their investment. 

Mitch Rubin, Director Of Innovation at Elemental Excelerator, noted that, “Local, decentralized but interconnected food systems enable the greatest resilience. However, not enough capital and prioritization seems to be placed on processing infrastructure. Capital needs to be made available for processing.” In addition to Mitch, many speakers throughout the conference also emphasized the need for more capital in this area. 

Investors are not the only ones recognizing the financial and sustainable opportunities within Regenerative Agriculture. In fact, as of October 19th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $1.3 billion program that would provide debt relief to farmers facing adversity with qualifying USDA farm loans. According to the USDA, “through this assistance, USDA is focused on generating long-term stability and success for distressed borrowers.” This is a huge win for farmers who need access to capital in order to purchase appropriate infrastructure, technology, equipment and staff  to transition away from conventional agriculture. 

CESR Students Study Regenerative Agriculture

CESR offers Leeds students several opportunities to grow their knowledge about impact investing and regenerative agriculture including career panels, treks to local/national organizations, workshops, jobs and internships, and speaker sessions.  Our Natural and Organic MBA Pathway is designed to build connections within the industry through experiential learning, curriculum, and networking events. A number of our Pathway partners were at RSFI including Trailhead Capital, Quinn Foods, and rePlant Capital.

"The RFSI Forum was a great opportunity to make new connections and reconnect with colleagues working to advance regenerative agriculture. The speakers and breakout groups covered a wide variety of topics from impact investing to nutrient density and impact verification, which were all helpful to support our work at Quinn," 

says Grace Dennis (MBA’21), Sustainability and Sourcing Manager at Quinn Foods

Rita Herzog (MBA/MENV’24) volunteered at the conference and found that, “the problems that were discussed at this event, and the motivation to solve such problems, made me even more excited to be where I am today as a dual degree master's student at CU Boulder,” where she is studying food systems and sustainability along with entrepreneurship. For Rita, the conference was also an opportunity to build her network. “I met many professionals to connect with and learn from who are helping change the current status of our food system to a more regenerative, climate-friendly, and profitable ecosystem.”


If you work at a company interested in partnering with Leeds on topics related to regenerative agriculture, please reach out to CESR

Undergraduate and graduate students interested in upcoming events can visit the CESR Event page and sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter.