Philosophy: How AgIS Engages on ESG

Writing by Jeff Conrad, Founder, President and CEO of AgIS Capital, LLC

At AgIS, our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) philosophy is anchored by a belief that active engagement reduces investment and business risk, as well as the cost of our operations. This not only benefits our company but our investors as well.

We also believe ESG engagement positions us to capitalize on emerging opportunities arising out of the development of the global sustainability economy. Furthermore, it reflects our core values as a company, which include operating with a stewardship ethic that contributes to the greater good.

The Rationale

As the world increasingly recognizes the importance of preserving and protecting working landscapes, including farms, to promote and advance global sustainability, new markets and product concepts are being spawned. This is gradually enabling agricultural investment managers and their clients to monetize a broader array of the natural capital values that are resident on the farm production and processing assets they acquire, own and manage.

These new sustainability‐oriented markets are providing agricultural investors with new financial incentives to protect and enhance water and air quality, wildlife habitat and scenic, cultural and historical values. They also are creating opportunities to promote rural economic resilience, pursue farm‐based environmental mitigation strategies, and make broader and more efficient use of renewable energy generation technologies, like solar and wind power. Here at AgIS, we welcome this evolution because the market changes its is producing align with both our opportunistic and stewardship‐focused approach to agricultural investing – as well as with our interest in making a contribution to the achievement of the world’s sustainability objectives.

How We Engage

Our approach to ESG engagement has 14 dimensions. These are addressed in the context of the universal standards promulgated by the Principles of Responsible Investment (PRI) and Leading Harvest, the world’s first, scalable sustainability standard for the agricultural investment sector. These dimensions, which also are addressed in our internal ESG policy framework, are as follows:

Adhere to Best Management Practices: Acquiring and operating farm assets in accordance with accepted and endorsed “Best Management Practices” (BMPs), which are generally established by agricultural industry experts, the academic and regulatory communities and now, Leading Harvest.

Reduce Energy Usage and Embrace Clean Technologies:

  • Generating energy for use on the farm assets we manage, and across our operations, using clean and efficient technologies and approaches
  • Exploring, developing and testing new energy generation sources that promise to make our operations cleaner and less consumptive.

Avoid and Mitigate Soil, Water, Air and Wildlife Impacts: Assessing and lessening our environmental impact on farm resources – and especially on soil, water and air attributes and wildlife habitat.

Limit and Mitigate Climate Impacts: Assessing the degree to which our operations contribute to global warming and taking steps to reduce and mitigate these impacts whenever possible.

Protect Human Rights: Recognizing the rights and priorities of those who live and work on the farm assets we manage and treating them with dignity and respect.

Provide for Worker and Contractor Health and Safety: Taking precautions to provide those who work on our investors’ assets with healthy and safe work environments.

Adhere to Labor and Immigration Laws: Complying with all laws and governmental mandates to treat employees and contract laborers in our service in accordance with both relevant labor and immigration statutes and guidelines.

Build Relationships with Public and Private Stakeholders: Recognizing that the broader public, including public officials and regulators, have a legitimate interest in how we manage the agricultural assets under our stewardship – and developing relationships with them that can produce mutually acceptable outcomes and results.

Be Transparent: Being open, honest and transparent about our activities – both with clients and our public stakeholders.

Strive for Continuous Improvement: Recognizing that we are an imperfect organization and that part of embracing ESG engagement is striving to improve how we handle and address such challenges.

Prioritize Creativity and Innovation: Assuming that every ESG challenge has a solution and that a commitment to creativity and innovation in its pursuit is the key to long‐term success.

Promote Diversity, Equity and Equal Opportunity: Treating our employees with dignity and both personal and professional respect as well as providing them with equal opportunities to develop their skills, contribute their talents and advance within the organization.

Lead by Embracing Responsibility: Understanding that leadership, first and foremost, entails taking responsibility for promoting the organization’s culture, values and ethical framework and holding everyone in the firm to those standards of behavior and performance – especially in an ESG context.

Comply with PRI Principles and Leading Harvest Standards: Honoring the commitments we have made to operate in accordance with both organization’s expectations.

We at AgIS continue to work hard at integrating these ESG themes into our core foundational statements – our Vision, Mission and Strategy as well as our Core Values and Operating Principles. These statements are important because they express why we exist, what we are trying to accomplish and what values and behaviors we have embraced. We believe creating firm linkage between them and ESG priorities is the best way to ensure ESG remains top‐of‐mind for everyone in our organization.

Learn more about AgIS Capital’s ESG engagement on our Responsibility page.