Future of Agriculture

Future of Agriculture – Project Level Equity for Ag Infrastructure with Aaron Ratner of Ultra Capital

Aaron Ratner is the Managing Director at Ultra Capital, a company that finances small and mid-size startups in the sustainable technology industry. He has over 20 years of experience in advisory, international investment, and project development with a focus on agriculture and technology. Aaron obtained his MsM from Stanford University and his BA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Aaron joins me today to discuss what Ultra Capital is about and what they aim to accomplish with their current business model. He shares his passion for sustainable technologies and preserving Mother Nature. He describes how their business works and their criteria for investing. Aaron also explains why banks aren’t as committed to funding the kind of companies they work with.

“It is incredibly fulfilling, trying to make the world a better place. From that, there is really no turning back.” – Aaron Ratner

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Aaron’s definition of project level equity.
  • What he believes is the one key success factor for Ultra Capital.
  • How their business model runs and a few real world examples.
  • Why banks hesitate to loan money for the kind of clients they handle.
  • The reason he became passionate about this type of business.
  • Their primary criteria and requirements in a startup before they invest.
  • What the future holds for Ultra Capital and their upcoming projects.

Connect with Aaron Ratner

We Are a Part of a Bigger Family! 

The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today. 

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! 

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

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Future of Agriculture – International Ag Development through Venture Capital with Euler Bropleh of Vested World

Euler Bropleh is the Founder & Managing Director of Vested World, an investment platform that seeks to bridge the gap between private investors and startups in emerging markets. Euler focuses on emerging markets because he knows what it’s live in a country that barely made any progress in the last 50 years and how access to substantial capital can make a huge difference in the economy of a developing nation. He has served as an angel investor to multiple businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa, some of which are in the ag industry.

Euler joins me today to share his commitment to helping developing countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, and Uganda. He discusses how Vested World works and describes some of the companies they helped grow and prosper. He explains some of the risks involved in their business as well as some of its more notable benefits. Euler also discusses what the FIERCE acronym stands for and how he bases his business model around it.

“If you do well by the people you’re working with, your company’s going to perform better, and everyone benefits from it.” – Euler Bropleh

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • What Vested World is and its business focus.
  • The history of Vested World and some of their notable investments.
  • Risk and benefits in investing in developing countries.
  • Ag-related companies they’ve invested in.
  • What made Euler want to invest in Sub-Saharan Africa?
  • What it’s like to grow up in an African country.
  • Balancing the needs of the communities he is impacting.
  • What FIERCE stands for and how he considers it with their investment models.

Connect with Euler Bropleh

We Are a Part of a Bigger Family! 

The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today. 

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! 

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter AgGrad on Facebook AgGrad on LinkedIn AgGrad on Instagram 

Future of Agriculture – U.S. Policy on Lab-Grown Meat with Scott Bennett of the American Farm Bureau Federation

Scott Bennett is the Director of Congressional Relations at the American Farm Bureau Federation, an independent, voluntary, non-government group that is headed by people who represent the best interests of farmers and their families in the US. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics and Political Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Before joining the American Farm Bureau Federation, he was the legislative director for Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a House Agriculture Committee Senior member.

Scott joins me today to discuss the developments on lab-grown protein products and their potential benefits to the economy. He explains some of the political aspects of agriculture, particularly on its relationship with government entities. He also describes the differences between plant-based and lab-based proteins and shares his views for the future of lab-grown proteins as well as advice to those who want to support this idea.

“Five years ago, lab-grown protein was science fiction, but here we are faced with it today. It is the reality.” – Scott Bennett

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • The significance of having a primary jurisdiction with USDA.
  • Policy differences between gene-edited livestock and cell-based meats.
  • His thoughts on the recent press release from the FDA.
  • Plant-based and lab-grown proteins and their key labeling differences.
  • How he sees this technology developing in five years.
  • Getting involved in the local government to pass the necessary laws for agtech.
  • How the public perceives lab-grown protein.
  • The biggest issues facing the current agricultural innovation landscape.

Connect with Scott Bennett

We Are a Part of a Bigger Family! 

The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today. 

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! 

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter AgGrad on Facebook AgGrad on LinkedIn AgGrad on Instagram 

Future of Agriculture – The Case for Urban Agriculture with Henry Gordon-Smith of Agritecture

Henry Gordon-Smith is considered one of the leading experts in urban agriculture. He is the Founder and Managing Director of Agritecture, a global urban agriculture consultation company that seeks to spread and promote the idea of urban and vertical farming. Part of Henry’s duties as Managing Director include overseeing projects, planning events and conferences, and networking with like-minded businesses. He has a BA in Political Science from the University of British Columbia and an MSc in Sustainability Management from Columbia University.

Henry joins me today to share his passion for urban farming and discuss some of its more fascinating details. He explains what urban farming is, what makes it different from local farming, and how it can improve a city’s economic growth as well as its sustainability efforts. He shares research data on urban agriculture, how someone can be eligible to have an urban farm, and the potential profitability. Henry also describes what we can expect from their AgLanta conference in April 2019.

“If a certain population in the city know how to grow food, and there are policies to support it, the city will be able to impact its own food security and be more independent.” – Henry Gordon-Smith

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • How Henry became interested in working in agriculture.
  • Why he chose blogging as a means to spread stories on Agritecture.
  • Why we should be looking into urban farming and how it helps sustainability efforts.
  • Where the most opportunities lie in sustainable urban farming.
  • Emerging green technologies that embody the food, water, and energy systems.
  • The difference between urban and local agriculture.
  • Urban agriculture profitability and investments.
  • The idea of replacing the sun using new technology.
  • The types of plants that can thrive in an urban setting.
  • Minimum requirements for someone to start urban farming.
  • Some of the reasons urban farming fails and how to make it succeed.
  • What to expect at the AgLanta conference.

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Henry Gordon-Smith

We Are a Part of a Bigger Family! 

The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today. 

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! 

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter AgGrad on Facebook AgGrad on LinkedIn AgGrad on Instagram 

Future of Agriculture – Building Local Fermentation Hubs for Microbial Ag Solutions with Dr. Paul Zorner of Locus Ag

Dr. Paul Zorner is the CEO of Locus Agricultural Solutions, an agricultural company that develops non-GMO and organic microbial “probiotics.” These microbial probiotics aim to become the alternative to conventional farm pesticides, effectively reducing chemical interaction with our crops as well as preserving soil health. Dr. Paul’s responsibilities as CEO include overseeing the company’s strategies, operations, and product development. He has over 40 years of experience in science and R&D operations from multiple international companies.

Dr. Paul joins us today to discuss the potential benefits of microbes for soil health and farm yield. He shares the science behind using microbes for soil and their untapped potential for the agriculture industry as a whole. He describes some of the microbes’ functions, how they are to be applied on crops, and how they can reduce pesticide usage. He also explains how these microbes can help reduce carbon gases in the atmosphere.

“We know more about the surface of the moon than we do about soil microbe ecology.” – Dr. Paul Zorner

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • Why he thinks microbes will revolutionize the agricultural industry.
  • The microbes they’ve developed and their purpose in farming.
  • How he proposes their microbes will work on various crops.
  • How their company produces and mixes microbe “cocktails.”
  • Their marketing methods and how they do business with farmers.
  • Carbon sequestration, the atmosphere, and soil sustainability.
  • Real world examples of microbe usage in farms and their potential yields.
  • Why microbes can reduce the use of chemical pesticides.

Connect with Dr. Paul Zorner

We Are a Part of a Bigger Family! 

The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today. 

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! 

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter AgGrad on Facebook AgGrad on LinkedIn AgGrad on Instagram 

Future of Agriculture – Maybe Disruption Isn’t the Answer for Ag with Matt Zieger of Village Capital

Matt joins me today to discuss the idea of disruptive startups and why being disruptive may not be what the ag industry currently needs. He shares what Village Capital is all about, how they determine which companies they will invest in, and their business processes. He also shares the problems their company believes ag startups should focus on and describes when a company should scale and when it should just stay its course.

“The farm economy is the backbone of the American economy.” – Matt Zieger

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • What Village Capital is and the companies they invest in.
  • The problems in the food system Village Capital aims to solve.
  • Why displacing the ag industry is not always the solution.
  • How they choose companies to invest in within the ag industry.
  • What business models should be to benefit both investors and consumers.
  • Why the “move fast and break things” business strategy is not applicable in ag.
  • Determining whether it’s time to grow and scale or to keep the cycle.
  • What excites him the most about the future of the ag industry?

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Matt Zieger

We Are a Part of a Bigger Family! 

The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today. 

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! 

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter AgGrad on Facebook AgGrad on LinkedIn AgGrad on Instagram 

Future of Agriculture – Dairies becoming Fertilizer Factories with Ross Thurston of LWR and Jay Binversie of Bucky Organics

Ross Thruston is the President and Founder of Livestock Water Recycling, a company that is implementing technology in animal agriculture units that recycles the water and nutrients from animal agriculture systems. He has over 30 years of experience in construction and environmental technology.

Jay Binversie is a third generation dairy farmer and the owner of Robinway Dairy and Bucky Organics. Robinway Dairy is a 1700 cow dairy farm based in Kiel, Wisconsin. Bucky Organics is a company that produces and sells organic plant nutrients. Jay has used the Livestock Water Recycling’s system on his dairy farm for over four years, extracting the nutrients from his cow’s manure and using it to create natural organic plant nutrient supplements for farmers.

Ross and Jay join me today to discuss nutrient cycling and the manure economy. Ross shares what inspired him to create a system for the agriculture industry and how it impacts farm sustainability. Jay shares the agricultural and economic advantages he has experienced since installing the system on his dairy farm as well as how implementing the system has opened new opportunities for growth and revenue. We also discuss how dairy farmers can utilize the LWR recycling system to extract valuable nutrients and materials from their farms to improve their soil health, increase product yields, and make a positive impact on the economy and environment.

“From a sustainability perspective, what we do in terms of compacting and segregating the nutrients lets the manure economy work so you can take nutrients back to your feed sources – which you were never able to do before.” – Ross Thurston

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • How Livestock Water Recycling got started in the animal agriculture industry.
  • What inspired Ross to create the LWR system for the ag industry.
  • How the LWR system is helping farmers increase product yields and create new income streams.
  • Why Jay decided to implement the LWR system on his dairy farm.
  • The economic advantages of implementing the LWR system.
  • How using the system has impacted Jay’s life and business.
  • The primary pain point that often drives producers to connect with Ross.
  • The impact that the LWR system can have on ag sustainability.
  • How the system can reduce greenhouse gasses in the environment.
  • How it opens new opportunities for new marketplaces in the agriculture space.
  • How the system has helped Jay reduce the use of antibiotics on his dairy farm.
  • The impact that the manure economy has on a farmer’s ability to scale.
  • Why farmers are often hesitant to implement new technologies.

Related Content:

Connect with Ross Thurston:

Connect with Jay Binversie:

We Are a Part of a Bigger Family! 

The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today. 

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! 

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter AgGrad on Facebook AgGrad on LinkedIn

Future of Agriculture – Understanding the AgTech Investor with Steve Sarracino of Activant Capital

Steve Sarracino is the Founder of Activant Capital, a business that invests in growth-stage tech companies worldwide. They provide funding for businesses in commerce, Internet of Things, and data-driven companies. For agriculture, Steve prefers data-driven companies because they can act as a source of truth not just for farmers, but also for consumers. He obtained his MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and his BA in Finance and Economics at Southern Methodist University.

Steve joins me today to discuss how the farmers can benefit from data-driven startups and how it can have positive effects on the ag industry. He describes the current business models that govern the ag industry and the emerging trends in startups. He also shares the type of business models farmers need and describes the kind of companies they’re looking to invest in as well as what new ag startups should seek to address.

“Farming is basically a dirty data problem.” – Dr. David Williams

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • The current setup in the AgTech industry.
  • The type of business model that can help today’s farmers.
  • Why there’s a reluctance from farmers to change business models.
  • Their criteria in looking for ag business investments.
  • How their investment process works from start to finish.
  • The types of business leaders they like working with.
  • Problems in agriculture new startups should tackle.

Key Takeaways:

  • If you can partner with the right technology firm and sell direct, that can change the economic model.
  • The average farmer makes about 120 important decisions, all affected by data.

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Steve Sarracino:

We Are a Part of a Bigger Family! 

The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today. 

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! 

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter AgGrad on Facebook AgGrad on LinkedIn AgGrad on Instagram 

Future of Agriculture – Hemp Opportunities and Realities Part 2 with Dr. David Williams of the University of Kentucky

Dr. David Williams is a professor of agronomy and member of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences with the University of Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Industrial Hemp Program. He has been in the agronomic industry his entire career, wearing hats as a teacher, researcher, and practitioner. David has been a champion of industrial hemp agronomic science research since 2014.

David joins me today to discuss the various ways hemp can be utilized other than for its psychoactive properties. He explains what the industry currently looks like and how that will change in the coming years. He also shares some of the concerns farmers raise when it comes to growing hemp, farm data about the plant, and describes how hemp holds the potential to revolutionize the economy.

“Cannabinoids are evolutionarily thought of as a plant protection molecule. They certainly weren’t put on this Earth to get humans high.” – Dr. David Williams

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • David’s professional background and thoughts on Kentucky’s advancements in the hemp space.
  • What the hemp industry looks like right now and how it might look in the near future.
  • Concerns on hemp sustainability and its effects on the economy.
  • How the Farm Bill will change the way the industry views and uses hemp.
  • The conditions necessary to grow hemp.
  • What farmers can do if they find out their crops are above the THC limit.
  • Common problems farmers encounter in growing hemp.
  • Challenges the hemp industry faces when it comes to scaling.
  • The selling points and applications of hemp.
  • The yield and income farmers can expect from growing hemp.

Key Takeaways:

  • The supply and demand for hemp are going to define the scope and scale of the industry.
  • Hemp is more than just a psychoactive plant, with applications that can potentially disrupt the industry.

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Dr. David Williams:

We Are a Part of a Bigger Family! 

The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today. 

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! 

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter AgGrad on Facebook AgGrad on LinkedIn AgGrad on Instagram 

Future of Agriculture – Hemp Opportunities and Realities Part 1 with Zev Paiss

Zev Paiss is a Managing Partner at Farmers Support Group, a company dedicated to helping hemp farmers as well as laying down the foundations for a U.S. hemp supply chain. Their goal is to guarantee buyers for every hemp seed planted. Zev’s extensive business acumen allows him to provide the group with consultation, supply chain development, and investor relations services. He also manages the company’s sustainability development projects.

Zev joins me today to discuss the hemp industry, its current state, and what the future holds for it. He shares his background, why he became passionate about hemp farming, and his current projects. He explains the massive economic potential of the hemp industry and why companies in various sectors should take a look. He also describes some of the problems farmers encounter when growing hemp as well as some of his proposed solutions.

“As the market demands different products, processors are continuing what they can do and figuring out how to scale up.” – Zev Paiss

This Week on The Future of Agriculture Podcast:

  • How Zev got started working in the hemp industry.
  • The state of the hemp industry today and what the future may hold.
  • Companies and businesses getting into the hemp industry.
  • Storing hemp products before they are processed.
  • The two emerging subsets on the CBD side of processing.
  • The necessary conditions and considerations to grow hemp.
  • Common problems farmers experience when growing hemp from the first time.

Key Takeaways:

  • The challenge with industrial hemp is you don’t want that THC of going above 0.3%

Connect with Zev Paiss:

We Are a Part of a Bigger Family! 

The Future of Agriculture Podcast is now part of the Farm and Rural Ag Network. Listen to more ag-related podcasts by subscribing on iTunes or on the Farm and Rural Ag Network Website today. 

Share the Ag-Love! 

Thanks for joining us on the Future of Agriculture Podcast – your spot for valuable information, content, and interviews with industry leaders throughout the agricultural space! If you enjoyed this week’s episode, please subscribe on iTunes and leave your honest feedback. Don’t forget to share it with your friends on your favorite social media spots! 

Learn more about AgGrad by visiting: 

Future of Agriculture Website

AgGrad Website

AgGrad on Twitter AgGrad on Facebook AgGrad on LinkedIn AgGrad on Instagram