Today, 28% of farmers are implementing practices to reduce their operation’s carbon footprint, and 17% are evaluating their options. While many farmers know about sustainable farming practices, holistic adoption across practices is less than 50 percent. (source here). This is unfortunate, because efforts from farmers could lead to higher levels of soil health, nutrient density in food (human health!) and more money for the farmer. The most profitable farming per acre happens on farms that focus on sustainability metrics.
Merge Impact serves as a translator, partner, connector and guide for farmers who want to “do better” but may be overwhelmed by how to get started or the vast amount of jargon dominating conversations about sustainable agriculture. They can also help farmers wade through paperwork and regulation headaches that can hold up action for sustainable agriculture.
Here are a few benefits that farmers can derive from working with the team at Merge Impact:
- Access to veteran industry experts who know farming and food brands
The founding team of Merge Impact provides a competitive edge farmers won’t find anywhere else. The combined experience, knowledge and network of Ben Adolph and Beth Robertson-Martin enables farmers to succeed in every step of their sustainability journey, from establishing measurements and setting goals, to monetizing efforts and connecting with food brands. Here’s a bit more about the team farmers have access to upon signing up with Merge Impact:
Inspired by the Northwest Illinois farm he grew up on, Ben Adolph has a vision of leveraging the power of data to accelerate a radically transparent and verified global food system that nourishes and supports the Earth, farmers, communities, and human health. As an experienced sustainable agriculture professional with over a decade in agronomy and sustainability management, Ben combines his comprehensive knowledge of plant nutrition, sustainability validation, and data analytics to help farmers establish and realize their optimal potential.
Beth Robertson-Martin brings over a decade of deep food supply chain relationships to her work. She worked previously with General Mills, focusing on strategies to deliver a high-quality, cost-effective, and more sustainable regenerative supply chain. She founded SHINE Sourcing and Supply Chain Solutions, which created insights-driven sourcing to meet the needs of small and mid-size food brands, ingredient companies, restaurants, and school lunch programs. Beth knows what food brands need from farmers and how to facilitate more mutually beneficial relationships between the two.
- Big Picture View of the Farm’s Impact
Using their combined knowledge and experience, Merge works with farmers to establish baseline measurements and use them to determine what needs improvement with specific guidance about how to move forward. Farmers wanting to collect data about variables like biodiversity or nutrient density can work with Merge to start collecting, ensuring nets, and monitoring their impact. Whether it’s working toward an organic/regenerative certification or simply increasing biodiversity, Merge Impact uses an easy-to-read dashboard that houses all farming data and enhances transparent traceability in our food’s supply chain, a bonus for farmers who want to demonstrate their efforts easily and verifiably to food brands and/or consumers.
Merge Impact helps farmers monetize their efforts toward a more sustainable food system. Merge works to secure a contract with food brands to purchase a farmer’s impact data as a premium on production. So with wheat, for example, the food company would pay for the wheat as usual, but then would pay an additional amount per unit, depending on the sustainability provided that allows them to make claims to their customers. In this example, wheat costs $10/bushel and then on top of that, Merge carbon data costs $0.38/bushel, Merge Biodiversity data costs $0.25/bushel. In this scenario, the farmer gets paid more for a sustainability value add and the food brand gets to advertise that their wheat is low carbon/high biodiversity. Additionally, if a farm’s practices create any credit opportunities for ecosystem service, the farmer can market those through Merge Impact’s marketplace.
- No Time Constraints
Farmers are some of the busiest people around, and most of them aren’t up for adding more items to their to-do lists, even if it means becoming more sustainable. Merge Impact takes on the full burden of measurement and tracking, removing the burden of time investment from the farmer. Clint Jessen, farmer and CEO of Jessen Wheat Company, says about this topic: “With all the other responsibilities we as farmers already have, Merge allows us to focus on what we need to accomplish while they focus on the data, verification and marketing process to get our farmers paid for the needed practices and products we produce.”
- No Cost
Merge Impact provides all this value at no cost to farmers. Part of the role Merge Impact plays in a more sustainable food system is to align appropriate data with food brands and their consumers who value it. Brands that value biodiversity or nutrient-dense soil can work with Merge Impact to translate the value into a per-unit procurement opportunity along with whatever physical food or agricultural product they are getting from the farmer.