Farmland Partners, a commercial real estate company that owns and manages farmland in 20 states, released a report on its sustainability initiatives. But his Environmental, Social, and Governance – or ESG – report is different than what you might see coming out of many publicly traded companies. Luca Fabbri, Farmland Partners President and CEO, explains.
“We are first and foremost an agriculture company. Then we are a real estate or publicly traded company. So, when we look at the rap that farmers get in the public domain and environmental circles in particular, we get a little bit surprised. So, working in agriculture, we know that this criticism is neither fair nor accurate. We know that U.S. farmers prioritize environmental stewardship. They’re the original environmentalists, and they’re doing amazing things by affordably feeding the world’s growing population while minimizing their environmental impact. Our goal was to use our first-ever ESG report to educate people about the great things farmers are doing every day and spotlight our tenants’ successes.”
He talks more about the success of their tenants.
“The report singled out a couple of our longtime tenants for being early adopters of cover crops, no-till, and other regenerative practices, but they are by no means outliers. We also discuss how advanced our tenants are across the entire portfolio. We conducted a tenants’ survey back in 2022 that showed some very promising numbers. So, for example, 97 percent of our tenants are actively investing in improving soil health. Ninety-four percent practice some form of conservation tillage. Eighty-seven percent use variable rate application technology in their operations and more than half participate in federal conservation programs.”
Farmland Partners does business based on a unique philosophy.
“We have a saying at our company: if we need to tell the farmer how to farm, then we probably need a new tenant. And we found that, for the most part, farmers are already doing great things with sustainability. They’re using the latest technologies and embracing the latest tools and techniques because doing so drives on-farm efficiencies, improves their bottom line, and protects the land they depend on for their livelihood. Again, the simple fact is lost too many people in ESG discussion, which is why we wanted to place our focus there in this report.”
Fabbri talks about other important information in the ESG report.
“The last couple of years have been very busy for us from an ESG standpoint. We expanded our renewable energy portfolio, and now we have wind and solar projects in operation or under construction that are capable of producing about 260 megawatts of electricity. We also teamed up with Ducks Unlimited to support conservation and habitat restoration projects. We crafted a series of sustainability policies for the company, and we calculated our company’s direct greenhouse gas emissions for the first time, which will be very small given that we have a limited staff and a limited office footprint.”
The Farmland Partners ESG report is available for review on its website.