Published: February 8, 2021

Category: Regenerative Agriculture

Kentucky-based primary food ingredient processor Victory Hemp Foods recently launched a campaign to finance regenerative hemp grain production on Steward, the world’s first CrowdFarming platform™. Steward’s platform provides investment opportunities to everyday people, allowing them to invest in sustainable farming. Victory Hemp’s campaign will fund the purchase of hemp seeds from farmers that need up-front funding to invest in the health of their land. Lenders can contribute as little as $100 to the campaign. 

Direct partnerships with farmers give Victory Hemp a clear view of the challenges that farms face when trying to diversify their operation and transition to organic and regenerative agriculture practices. As a Public Benefit Corporation, Victory Hemp contracts solely with U.S. hemp farmers and is committed to developing hemp grain as a positive addition to American agriculture. 

One of Victory Hemp’s contracted farms, Vollmar Family Farms, based in Caro, Michigan, is a 6th-generation family farm that has been certified organic since 1996. Vollmar Family Farms is currently taking their commitment to agricultural stewardship to another level by transitioning their production to regenerative organic practices—incorporating cover crops and minimizing tillage to feed and protect soil biology—to achieve Regenerative Organic Certification (ROC). 

A critical tool for farmers, like most other businesses, is access to capital. In most cases, expenses precede income and farmers need to rely on banks for assistance. A great number of rural banks’ lending portfolios is farm operations working capital and asset backed loans. Some banks are concerned with the risk profile associated with hemp due to regulations and or market uncertainty (even as a legal and USDA approved food ingredient). In the case of Vollmar Family Farms, their bank simply won’t let them draw their line of credit against their contracts with Victory Hemp, which was not learned until mid-season. 

Victory Hemp Foods’ Founder & CEO, Chad Rosen, is working with farmers to introduce hemp into their rotations and has seen these banking challenges firsthand. 

“When the USDA began certifying crops (and their products) organic production faced the same headwinds before markets were transparent and well established—this is an old story repeating itself in a new way,” Rosen remarked. “Thanks to Steward we’re able to cut the banks out of the deal, raise capital democratically from individuals that want to invest in the change they want to see and earn a return far better than a bank would pay for their money.”

Mark Vollmar, owner and operator of Vollmar Family Farms, views hemp as a critical crop to bring into their rotation to meet their regenerative agriculture goals. He’s excited to see the momentum building around the CrowdFarming campaign.

“We appreciate Victory Hemp contracting our production for a fair price prior to planting and prompt payment upon delivery. However, because we don’t have access to our line of credit, we need upfront payment for the inventory that is currently in storage to pay our landlords. We think this campaign will bring attention to the banking challenges farmers are facing when it comes to hemp production,” Vollmar said. 

Crowdfunding through Steward is set up as a loan, not a donation. The terms of the loan are set at a 6% interest rate, with an 18-month term, and fully amortized monthly payments beginning in 3 months after an initial deferral period. The minimum investment is $100. 

Source: Steward

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Organic & Non-GMO Insights February 2021