Sustainable agriculture heats up

There's a growing interest in investing in sustainable agriculture initiatives.

There's a growing interest in investing in sustainable agriculture initiatives.

Oregon has long been on the forefront of the local food movement but what started as a trend on Portland menus has grown into a global economic shift that has the attention of creative entrepreneurs and top-shelf investors.

Oregon’s head start in thinking about local food, sustainable agriculture and land-use planning has positioned the state to benefit from this new age of agriculture finance.

That new age is earmarked by a variety of approaches to finance. One example is the rise of a new class of impact investors — investment organizations looking to collect a return that delivers not only financial results, but also environmental and social good — has trained its focus on food. And for good reason.

A global view of the economy shows a planet with diminishing resources but large swaths of population in countries like China and India making more demands on the global food system. Narrowing the focus to the U.S. shows average grocery produce items traveling thousands of miles before landing in the cart, rising childhood obesity rates and a shrinking pool of farmers minding the fields.

A report released last year by The Springcreek Foundation documented a growing investment trend. The report covered 40 investment funds dedicated to sustainable agriculture endeavors.

“In general there has been an increasing interest among the impact investment community in sustainable food and agriculture investments,” the report states.

Springcreek found that foundations and governmental organizations had been the go-to sources for food system investment, but the scale of the changes needed to meet demand and address environmental challenges has opened the door to investment dollars.

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