How we approach shared learning
Collaborative members provide unique value by sharing their successes, challenges, and insights from their project work, both internally and externally. These learnings include:
- Strategies, processes, or structures used in the development of a program.
- Economic insights, drivers, and the business case for sustainable practices.
- Different tactical approaches to project implementation that impacted the results (positively or negatively.)
- Best practices for collaboration and engagement.
- Insights from the best available science and collected data.
Lessons are gathered through a variety of channels, including an annual member survey, bi-annual reporting, interviews, and facilitated discussions. Through regular calls, webinars, and in-person convenings, Collaborative members have explored a range of topics together:
- The business case for soil health.
- Financing resilient agriculture, including outcomes-based approaches.
- Promoting sustainable practices to “middle adopters.”
- The role of non-operator landowners.
- New approaches to standards and assurance.
- Regenerative grazing.
- Social barriers to practice adoption.
These shared learning opportunities serve to strengthen relationships, improve the effectiveness of the Collaborative’s member projects, and contribute to knowledge within the field.
Report explores how to build social equity into Midwestern row crop agriculture
With the support of Lacy Consulting Services, interviews were conducted with Latino farmers and farmworkers in row crop production in the Midwest to better understand the needs and barriers impacting them in the industry. The findings were compiled into a report, “Growing Opportunity: Exploring ways to build social equity into Midwestern row crop agriculture.”
The work is an effort to better understand opportunities for row crop agriculture that reflect equitable, positive outcomes for people.
“From the Inside Out” learning report includes reflections and lessons
Based on a series of interviews with members, MRCC created the first learning report “From the Inside Out”—the product of reflection among MRCC’s members and select partners on lessons from their work.
The gathered insights include project highlights, challenges, and opportunities that members feel have the potential to substantially accelerate sustainable practice adoption in the Midwest’s row crop system.
Sustainable Ag Summit 2020
At the Sustainable Agriculture Summit (Nov. 18-19), MRCC brought together members from CPG, retail, and the nonprofit sectors to share examples of collaborative projects that span the food & agriculture value chain to drive adoption of sustainable practices, sharing both successes and challenges.
Members highlighted their experience working as a collaborative—both the opportunities and challenges, and how company and NGO members work together across different parts of value chain. Participants learned about the important role that putting shared learning into action plays in the growth and continuous improvement of members’ programs, for the good of farmers, the food on our plates, and the planet.
MRCC at VERGE20
Consumers are increasingly demanding more from their food. They want it to have a positive environmental impact, support local communities, fit into a healthy lifestyle and be affordable and convenient.
So how should food companies respond? On October 29, 2020 at VERGE20, the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative convened a group of members and industry experts on the latest consumer insights to share their perspectives on how companies along the supply chain are adapting. Some topics explored include consumer responses to labeling (e.g. fair trade, organic, and regenerative), and discussion on why and how sustainability-minded individuals to change their buying habits.
Conservation Finance in Agriculture
In October 2019, the Midwest Row Crop Collaborative convened a Forum on Conservation Finance in Agriculture to focus on unlocking finance as a tool for encouraging the adoption of regenerative practices.
The forum brought together a group of leading organizations and key stakeholders in the agriculture system—including lenders, agricultural retailers, farmers, companies, and nonprofits—to explore how the economic benefits of sustainable farming can be captured at different parts of the value chain through the mechanism of conservation finance.
Financial models explored:
- Lending products
- Outcomes-based financing
- Leveraging off-take relationships
- Ecosystem markets
Among the themes that emerged was the need for more and better data to prove the value of applying conservation finance and regenerative practices. Several attendees agreed to continue advancing work on the discussed models, including the Collaborative’s efforts to develop a Soil Health Lending Product.