2022 Agenda

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Conference Day 1

  • Tuesday, April 5th 2022
Tuesday, April 5th 2022
08:00am PST

Registration & Networking

09:00am PST

Chair’s Opening Remarks & Setting the Scene

09:10am PST

Keynote Panel Discussion: Can Regenerative Agriculture be the Answer to the Current Industry Issues?

According to the FAO, an estimated 52% of the land used for agriculture worldwide is moderately or severely degraded, meaning, simply “sustaining” it, isn’t enough. The impact of such degradation on broader climate concerns such as biodiversity, water resources, food security and carbon emissions can’t be ignored, but is regenerative agriculture really a panacea for the food system as a whole and with no universally accepted standard, how should we be defining “regenerative agriculture”?

  • Does regenerative agriculture need a label, or should we focus more on the measurable outcomes rather than the definition?
  • Are the actors in the food system ready and willing to adopt regenerative methods, and if not, what’s preventing change at each level of the supply chain?
  • What benefits do we associate with regenerative practices and do these reverse or supersede the problems faced by the food system?
  • Do the benefits of moving to regenerative practices justify the financial burdens during the transition period? 
  • How do we see this changing over time?

Panelists Include:

Derek Axten, Farm Owner, Axten Farms

Hans Sauter, Chief Sustainability Officer & SVP R&D,  Del Monte

Eric Fuchs, Senior Consultant, Understanding Ag

Dorothy Shaver, Global Marketing Food Sustainability Lead, Unilever 

10:00am PST

Paradigms of Agriculture: Data, Decision-Making, and the Future of Food

Never before have we expanded so quickly, with this much technology, and done so much damage to the ecological and cultural systems of the planet. Agriculture has been a large part of this. But agriculture is not inherently the problem. The term “Regenerative Agriculture” is undoubtedly hot right now, but most people using it are still thinking and making decisions from the same old paradigm that got us into this mess. In this session, we ask you to come with an open mind, as we explore the relationship between data, decision-making and each of the four paradigms of agriculture; Regenerative, Net-positive, Conservative and Extractive.

  • Should the F&B industry be distancing itself away from terms such as “regenerative” and “supply chains”?
  • How are decisions being made and what impact are they having on our landscapes?
  • What do you feel is the most effective path to transforming agriculture?
  • What effect can these have on economic systems and the future of food?

Ethan Soloviev, Chief Innovation Officer, HowGood

10:30am PST

Morning Break

11:00am PST

Panel Discussion: Limiting Factors Inhibiting Regenerative Agriculture Uptake

One of the biggest obstacles facing regenerative agriculture is adoption. Change is hard, often expensive, requires industry-wide buy-in and moreover it rarely comes with guarantees of success. One thing most of us agree on however, is that the food system is broken and as such, not changing isn’t an option anymore. So, what exactly is preventing higher adoption rates of regenerative practices and how can we ultimately overcome them?

  • Finance – are there ways for various stakeholders to maintain business health and viability through transitioning?
  • Farming Conditions – how do we overcome concerns over reduced yield, soil erosion, contaminated water and soil, as well as different weather conditions such as flooding, droughts, strong winds and weather changes associated with climate change impacting our crops?
  • Scale – are regenerative practices scalable and what impact does this have over key issues such as transition periods, cost and profit margins?
  • Education – is a lack of education preventing communities from having awareness and understanding of regenerative agriculture and how to approach it?
  • Culture – is there a way to bring a community together, either vertically or horizontally, to embrace culture and create a stronger community that is more easily able to work together in adapting to regenerative practices?

Panelists Include:

Jay Brandt, Owner, Walnut Creek Seeds 

Adin Alai, CEO & Founder, 9Fiber

Rebecca Gildiner, Director of Sustainability, Daily Harvest

Brandon Hunnicutt, Farmer & Vice Chairman, Nebraska Corn Board

Nick Betts, Director, Americas, SAI Platform

11:50am PST

The Innovation Showcase

In this one-of-a-kind session, we invite a select number of exciting, innovative AgTech start-ups to demonstrate their ideas to the audience, as well as a group of investors. The premise is simply, they have 5 minutes to showcase their innovation and 10 minutes to take Q&A. 

Feedback is critical to innovation, and as the audience you have a chance to not only submit questions to our moderator, but to also vote on whether, if it were your money, you would invest in a potentially game-changing idea. 

Stay tuned for more exciting updates on this years’ line-up!

Hosted by: Stephanie Dorsey, Founding Partner, E²JDJ

12:40pm PST

Lunch Break

1:40pm PST

The Food Finance Nexus

Public and private financial institutions are starting to create new coalitions to develop investment strategies and financial mechanisms to address the three pressing global challenges of today—the climate emergency, the loss of nature and growing inequality. One such initiative, Banking for Impact,  is a new global initiative that is bringing together leading banks with lending valued at $10 trillion that have large agriculture business portfolios to develop technical resources to reduce their agriculture- and land use-related emissions and nature impacts.

 

This new initiative was formed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative, the Partnership for Carbon Accounting Financials, and the Environmental Defense Fund. Their goal is to work with banks and investment houses that provide financing to farm and ranch operations to help guide them to a Net Zero environment. Efforts like these will help catalyze a transition to sustainable farming practices across the country’s 900 million acres of farmland, nearly 40% of the country’s land mass. This one-of-a-kind initiative, brings together an international group of finance leaders committed to accelerating the mobilization of finance for healthier, more sustainable, and inclusive food systems.

Amy Senter, Director, North America,World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

2:10pm PST

The Real Cost of Change

As with anything, change comes at a price. Whether it is people, processes or technology (or a combination of all three), transitioning to regenerative agriculture will involve costs. But who should fund the initial transition to regenerative practices? Is this the responsibility of the farmers and producers at the start of the supply chain and does the Growing Climate Solutions Act fairly compensate their efforts? 

  • Incentives, subsidies, grants or private finance? Which works best for your ambitions?
  • What role should wholesalers, CPGs and retailers play in this?
  • How do we balance cost and ROI against broader socio-economic and climate goals?
  • Should we charge a premium for regeneratively farmed produce and will consumers pay for it?

Panelists Include:

Peg Willingham, Executive Director, Fairtrade America

Dave Rapaport, Global Social Mission Officer, Ben & Jerry’s

Anthony Myint, Executive Director, Zero Foodprint

3:00pm PST

Afternoon Break

3:30pm PST

The Mutually Beneficial Role of Livestock within Regenerative Agriculture

Many commentators argue that reintegrating animals into crop production reduces costs associated with fertilizer, animal feed, labour and machinery. In addition, it also improves soil fertility by increasing soil microbial density and organic matter due to increased levels of manure. This in turn helps sequester more carbon from the atmosphere. In order to achieve this however, it requires time, training, knowledge, and in some cases workload, particularly in respect to soil management. In this session, we take a closer look at exactly how livestock can effect regenerative practices, tackling issues such as:

  • What are the pros and cons of integrating livestock into crop production?
  • Are animals right for your system, and if so, which animals?
  • What role can technology play in helping us manage livestock and crop rotation as efficiently as possible?
  • How much extra work and knowledge is required to integrate livestock effectively?

Blake Alexandre, Company Owner, Alexandre Family Farm A2 Organic Milk

4:00pm PST

Closing Panel Discussion: If it Matters, it Produces Controversy

Regenerative agriculture is fraught with debate over key issues such as standards, measurement, accountability, demand and even the methods that constitute regenerative practices. We all understand that collaboration across the supply chain is critical in pushing this forward, but difficult questions often require difficult answers. In this open, candid discussion, we hear first-hand, how some of the industries foremost thought-leaders tackle some of the most commonly associated debates with regenerative farming, including:

  • Does regenerative have to be organic?
  • Will certification really empower farmers and help foster consumer awareness and demand?
  • Is restoration of soil health and the rise in carbon offsetting a perfect match or a disaster waiting to happen?
  • How prevalent is greenwashing within sustainable and regenerative farming?

Panelists Include:

Eric Fuchs, Senior Consultant, Understanding Ag

Adin Alai, CEO & Founder, 9Fiber

Takashi Nakamura, Vice President, R&D and Food Safety, Del Monte

Cheryl Pinto, Global Head of Values Led Sourcing, Ben & Jerry’s

4:50pm PST

Chair’s Closing Remarks

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Conference Day 2

  • Wednesday, April 6th 2022
Wednesday, April 6th 2022
9:00am PST

Chair’s Opening Remarks

9:10 am PST

Panel Discussion: Measuring Regenerative Efforts to Improve Accountability & Transparency in the Supply Chain

One of the biggest criticisms levelled at the industry as it stands is that of transparency, accountability and how this is measured. Yesterday we discussed key issues surrounding standards, methods and timeframes, and in this opening session we take this one step further, taking a more detailed look at how regenerative practices are currently being measured and benchmarked. Topics for discussion include:

  • Can a set of measurable outcomes be expanded upon and pursued industry-wide?
  • What do we believe is the knock-on effect of this and how does this affect the supply chain?
  • How is it that businesses can operate under a regenerative title without the need to meet structured criteria?
  • Who or what can help us accurately measure change and is a data-driven democracy from producer to consumer the answer?
  • What role can technology play in ensuring accountability and transparency remains consistent across the supply chain?

Panelists Include:

Derek Axten, Farm Owner, Axten Farms

Sara Newmark, Chief Operating Officer, True Grace 

Jennifer Simpson, Director of Agriculture, North America, Danone

Dave Rapaport, Global Social Mission Officer, Ben & Jerry’s

10:00am PST

Case Study: Statistical Analysis of a Farm’s Before and After Adoption of Regenerative Practices

Join us, as we deep-dive into the before, during and after stages of a transition to regenerative practices. This case study not only provides tangible insight into what change looks like at ground level, but also demonstrates how to overcome critical inhibitors, such as finance, yield and compatibility. Split into three main topics, we’ll be addressing:

  • Financial viability – comparing cash flow before and after alongside the costs associated with the move to regenerative agriculture.
  • Productivity – Evaluating how systems can be altered to improve efficiency, yield and quality of product.
  • Cross compatibility – compare and contrast the methods and processes used and how this can be applied to other businesses.

Roy Pfaltzgraff, Farm Owner, Pfaltzgraff Farms

10:30am PST

Morning Break

11:00am PST

Panel Discussion: Back to the Future Farming

The irony of regenerative agriculture is that prior to the use of chemical fertilizers and commercial farming, many indigenous and traditional methods would be classed nowadays as “regenerative”. That said, hindsight is indeed a wonderful thing, and our understanding of how nature and technology can work harmoniously is growing daily. In this discussion we reflect back to previous farming practices and their regenerative properties/abilities, but with a focus on how new-found and innovative technology is creating a new frontier of farming:

  • Is technology alone the answer?
  • Which traditional practices do we feel could be partnered with modern day technology to generate the best possible outcomes?
  • How should technology continue to evolve in order to further this concept effectively and efficiently?

Panelists Include:

  • Jay Brandt, Owner, Walnut Creek Seeds
  • Monika Firl, Carbon, Climate & Coffee Project Manager, Cooperative Coffee
  • Brandon Hunnicutt, Farmer & Vice Chairman, Nebraska Corn Board
11:50am PST

Ending or Beginning? How Upcycling Food Waste Is Vital to Regenerative Food Systems

“Produce No Waste” is the 6th principle of permaculture, but there is more to closing the loop between systemic food waste and regenerative food systems. Food loss prevention at the farm level is critical, but it’s only part of what is needed. Embracing the principles of a circular economy connects the dots between outputs, byproducts and inputs throughout the supply chain. In doing so, through practices like upcycling, we maximize the potential of all food and simultaneously reduce the pressure on natural resources. In this session, we’ll explore the following topics:

  • How can we better connect upstream and downstream supply chain partners to drive innovation in a circular economy?
  • Can a company credibly quantify its environmental impact from farm to upcycled fork?
  • What types of stories can we be telling consumers to inform and educate them?

Daniel Kurzrock, CEO, ReGrained

12:20pm PST

Lunch Break

1:20pm PST

Panel Discussion: Carbon, Biodiversity and Chemical Levels in the Soil

As Dr. Rattan Lal states, “carbon is the determinant of healthy soil. The reason that soil life is much more diverse in healthy soil is because organic carbon is the food for soil organisms. Thus, the healthier the soil, the higher the percentage of organic carbon, providing more diverse populations with the ability to thrive”. Whilst this addresses obvious sustainability concerns, healthier soil, water retention and nutrient cycling also improves the yield and quality of produce and as such is seen as the cornerstone of regenerative agriculture. In this discussion, our panel of experts tackle the all-important topics of carbon, chemical levels and soil health, including:

  • What changes in soil health can we realistically expect over short-, medium- and long-term timeframes?
  • Why is there no Healthy Soil Act in the same way there’s a Clean Air and Clean Water Act?
  • What role can precision technology play in monitoring and improving factors such as erosion, leaching, decomposition and volatilization?
  • What impact do we feel the rise in carbon offsetting is likely to have on sustainable, organic and regenerative farming practices? 

Panelists Include:

Paul Lightfoot, Founder & President, Bright Farms

2:10pm PST

Case Study: Is Smart Ag the Answer?

Regenerative or not, we still require great produce and to achieve the best quality and yield possible. As we’ve already discussed, smart technology can be used to measure pretty much anything, from pH, chemical or pesticide levels, water quality, nutrient density etc. but once you’ve taken the decision to make changes to your existing practices, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In this session we explore the unspoken truths around the implementation and integration of Smart Ag and what this really entails. From selecting the technology that’s right for you, to ensuring it works effectively, this first-hand account assesses the successes and setbacks in all its glory!

  • What impact has data and IoT had on your business?
  • Were the outcomes immediate?
  • How tricky was it to integrate and what major obstacles did you have to overcome?
  • What would you do differently if you could start over?

Jennifer Simpson, Director of Agriculture, North America, Danone

2:40pm PST

Afternoon Break

3:10pm PST

Panel Discussion: Health of the Land Associated with Regenerative Agriculture

It goes without saying that regenerative efforts can be beneficial to the land, and that this in turn can improve yield and quality. However, can the drivers of regenerative efforts be addressed effectively and in unison whilst also remaining operationally viable, or do we need to prioritise one aspect over another in order to maximize our efforts?

  • Should improving the biological composition of the soil as well as reducing erosion and use of toxic fertilizer chemicals take precedent?
  • How does effective water stewardship, reducing water consumption and contamination from surface runoff tie in?
  • Is supporting the surrounding ecosystem and increasing the biodiversity of both flora and fauna on and around the land a target or a bi-product of our efforts?
  • Ultimately, is it possible for businesses to work on all of these areas at the same time, and if not, which should take priority? 

Panelists Include:

Blake Alexandre, Company Owner, Alexandre Family Farm A2 Organic Milk

Paul Lightfoot, Founder & President, Bright Farms

Brandon Hunnicutt, Farmer & Vice Chairman, Nebraska Corn Board

Joseph Brinkley, Director of Regenerative Farming, Fetzer Vineyards

4:00pm PST

Knowledge is Power: Regenerative Agriculture Education Opportunities

Providing education, research and training opportunities to all actors within the food system, as well as the next generation of producers and food system leaders is imperative to continue the efforts for both regenerative agriculture, but also broader efforts around food security, circular economy and the UN’s SDGs. It can also provide support on specific challenges to individuals and businesses alike, such as food/product quality, risk management and profitability, but in a relatively speaking, young and emerging field, where should we turn?

  • What opportunities are available and who are they relevant to?
  • Do they cover commercial drivers as well as environmental drivers?
  • How accessible are these educational opportunities?
  • Are larger agricultural and food businesses beginning to play a more active role in research and education? 

Nathanael Siemens, Organic & Regenerative Farming Consultant, Rodale Institute

4:30pm PST

Chair’s Closing Remarks

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