Top five most-read stories this year

Several of the most talked-about topics feature in the five most popular stories from the first quarter of 2021.

  1. Bill and Melinda Gates become largest private farmland owners in US – The Land Report

The fact that Bill and Melinda Gates had quietly been amassing a farmland portfolio throughout the years was reasonably well known throughout the industry. Agri Investor has reported on several transactions over the past few years which confirms this, but it was never possible to pinpoint the exact size of the portfolio.

The Land Report’s analysis, which put the figure at 242,000 acres – which lent on Agri Investor’s past reporting – was timely.

  1. Roc Partners raising first food and agribusiness fund – exclusive

After spinning out of Macquarie Asset Management in 2014, Australian private equity firm Roc Partners has managed several food investments across the sector.

The firm launched its first fund dedicated to food and agribusiness in February with a A$200 million ($155 million; €128 million) target and A$300 million hard-cap. “Our investments will seek to control the entire supply chain with that vertical integration to minimize volatility,” partner Brad Mytton told Agri Investor.

  1. Quality of carbon credits shows early signs of influence

The fledgling agricultural carbon credits market must overcome several teething problems before it becomes a stable and dependable market, but the fact that credits are being bought and sold on transparent markets means its long-term consequences are being considered.

Based on a farmland’s ability to sequester carbon and generate credits, stakeholders have predicted the value of land could rise or fall accordingly. And at current price points of between $15 and $20 per credit, those who monetize their credits now could miss out on better prices in future.

  1. AppHarvest enters public market through $475m SPAC deal

Following a gradual succession of public listings by several sustainability-conscious ag businesses towards the end of 2020, greenhouse grower AppHarvest went public in February via a $475 million special-purpose acquisition company.

Elsewhere, a $402 million Riverstone Holdings SPAC is targeting agri for its decarbonization potential, suggesting further agri public listings are on the horizon, while vertical farming start-up AeroFarms went public through a separate SPAC at the end of March.

  1. Westchester’s Davies on investors’ ‘moral obligation’ to natural capital

The global need to sustainably manage natural assets such as farmland and forestry has come into sharper focus as the effects of the climate crisis have become more apparent – a “moral obligation” that has not been lost on Westchester chief executive and president Martin Davies.

Davies confirmed the Nuveen firm is also looking at the potential breadth of agricultural offset markets – such as carbon credits – and is considering areas such as biodiversity and clean water.