Biodiversity and Pollinator Protection
Among the Company’s environmental impacts are protection of pollinators and preservation of clean waters. Bees, among them the recently classified endangered bumble bee, are responsible for 1 out of every 3 bites we eat—organic agriculture prohibits the use of pesticides, which have contributed to the endangerment of this vital pollinator. By insisting on organic practices, Iroquois Valley Farms has ensured that its farmland investments have not taken part in polluting water through pesticide and herbicide runoff. Iroquois Valley Farms’ environmental impacts are not limited to doing no harm; in fact, many of the Company’s farmers actively put land into conservation by using buffer zones, perennial pasture and creating pollinator habitats. Additionally, other lands operated by the Company’s tenant and borrower farmers are protected as wetlands or riparian filter strips. In effect, Iroquois Valley Farms’ commitment to organic practices protects the environment in the areas of soil health, pollinator preservation, and water contamination.
Organic Food and Public Health
Iroquois Valley’s core philosophy is simple: enabling the growth of healthy foods is good business. Furthermore, enabling the regeneration of soils and growth of nutritious foods is good for public health. The nutrient cycle (the process by which plants take in nutrients from the soil, thereby creating nutritious foods) demonstrates that human health relies on soil health. Essentially, healthy food grows from healthy, nutrient-rich, living soils while depleted soils produce nutrient-deficient foods. Advocating for the important connection between soil health and human health is Iroquois Valley’s co-founder and Board Chair, Dr. Stephen Rivard. In his medical practice, he sees food-related illnesses growing increasingly more common. As a company focused on soil regeneration and healthy food production, Iroquois Valley Farms can be considered a preventative health care company.
Next Generation Investing: Millennials Creating Change
Millennials are driving change in both investing and farming. According to the Organic Trade Association, millennials (specifically millennial parents) represent the largest group of organic consumers in the United States. Millennials are not just organic consumers; they are also entering organic farming leading agricultural change. The opportunity for impact is significant: millennials are the largest generation so far, with current census counts placing millennials as a population of 75 million. As a company dedicated to cultivating a more diverse and healthy agricultural system, Iroquois Valley works predominantly with the next-generation millennial farmers. Over 70% of Iroquois Valley Farms’ tenants are of the millennial generation. Right now, by contrast, Iroquois Valley’s investor base is made up by baby boomers, who are effectively reinvesting in restoration agriculture lead by millennials. A strategic goal of the Company is to enable the millennial generation to invest directly in healthy, organic food production by developing a non-accredited investor offering in late 2017. The Company considers its work to enable both millennial farmers and millennial investors to impact agriculture integral to social and environmental justice.
Erosion of the Monoculture
Iroquois Valley Farms started business in Iroquois County, IL surrounded by a conventional corn and soy monoculture. The co-Founders, with a vision of creating a better agricultural system, established relationships with farmers focused on diversified organic production in Iroquois County and other neighboring Counties. From the first couple of farms, the Company expanded with a continued focus on “eroding the monoculture.” The sheer scale and size of conventional agriculture is enormous—less than 1% of the agricultural land in the U.S. is certified organic, which requires crop production rotation in order to maintain certification. The magnitude that prescription chemical agriculture has created makes transitioning to diversified organic production both a challenge and an opportunity for investors and farmers alike. The change is being accelerated by an informed and responsible coalition of investors, bankers and financial advisors, new communities are being energized and anchored through healthy food production. This systemic change has the opportunity to continue for decades if not generations. The Company is committed to providing farmers land access to accelerate the erosion of the monoculture.
Recognition of Impacts
In recognition of the Company’s efforts of protecting the environment and providing land tenure to organic and local farmers while generating a positive financial return, Iroquois Valley was selected to ImpactAssets IA50 in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016. The IA50 is a listing of experienced private debt and equity impact investment managers that is updated annually by ImpactAssets, a non-profit organization that promotes a capital ecosystem for optimal social, environmental and financial impact.
The Company shares the vision expressed in the Great Law of Peace (Iroquois Nation) “In every deliberation, one must consider the impact on the seventh generation.”
The links below will provide more information about positive social and environmental impacts.
Click here to review the Statement of Positive Impact
Click here to review the Impact Report
Click here to read “What Our Farmers Say” about Iroquois Valley Farms
Click here to learn more about the Certified B Corporation status and IA50 selection
Click here to learn about investing in Iroquois Valley Farms