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Portfolio News and Updates: April 2023 Edition

E. Bader
April 27, 2023

USDA Kicks Off Climate-Smart Partnership Network, Including Propagate

On Thursday, April 27, 2023, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will host a virtual kick-off event for its Partnerships for Climate-Smart Commodities Projects. The USDA funded the projects with $3.5billion in grants, awarded in September 2022.

We’re thrilled that our portfolio member, Propagate, is part of a $60 million partnership under the Climate-Smart Commodities initiative. Their partnership includes a mix of partners from non-profits, academics, and food companies and will build out agroforestry projects in 38 U.S. states, including Hawaii. Propagate and its partners will support new agroforestry projects with incentives, planning, financing, buyer relationships, and technical assistance, including Propagate’s Overyield software.

The grant is one of only 70 awarded projects through the $3.5billion funding. The USDA funded less than 20 percent of the grant applications.

The USDA’s Partnerships Network is a virtual event for producers, partners, the public, and others interested in the program. The session will introduce the program goals, the latest news on awarded projects, and information about the learning initiative, the Partnerships Network. If you are interested, you can register at this link.

Charley Cummings of Walden Mutual Speaks with RFSI on the Importance of Small Banks for Agriculture in the Wake of the Silicon Valley Bank Collapse

The collapse of SVB sent shockwaves throughout the venture capital and start-up realm. As analysts and account holders contemplate the need for stability with larger financial institutions, Charley Cummings of Walden Mutual explained the value of depositor-owned mutual banks and smaller banks’ role for agricultural lending.

In an uncertain climate, mutual banks have a failure rate half that of stock-owned banks, said Cummings in an interview with Regenerative Food Systems Investment. Cummings stressed the importance of partnership with a lender who values each relationship, whereas big banks see only numbers on a complex balance sheet. For account holders, Cummings explained why your choice of a bank is one of the most impactful personal actions you take to address climate change. Your money can finance unsustainable industries through one of the Big Five banks, or it can be an investment in climate solutions.

Astanor Ventures Highlights Investment in Monarch in a TechBrew Interview

Valerie Christy of Astanor Ventures recently shared the strategies an ag-tech venture capital firm uses to assess potential investments. In an interview with Tech Brew, Christy said Astanor considers potential impact as part of the business case for investments, including total addressable market (TAM). She highlighted Monarch Tractor as an example of an impactful investment, and as a co-investor, we would have to agree. Monarch Tractor is more than a climate solution with its autonomous, electric farm equipment. The solution solves farm-level challenges for management and labor. Read more about Astanor and Monarch in the Tech Brew interview.

If you find the technology for autonomous, electric farm equipment as exciting as we do, Monarch recently published a case study on how its Monarch MV-K helps Peter Michael Winery meet its sustainability and profitability goals while improving farm safety.