How to finance a radical transition while having skin in the game

As part of the Transition Finance for Farmers series, Benedikt Bösel and Koen van Seijen discuss what it mean to truly partner with a farmer to provide a fair and skin-in-the-game transition finance investment in her or his farm to help the farm speed up the regenerative journey. They go deep into these questions with Mad Agriculture and The Perennial Fund’s Phil Taylor and Brandon Welch. Take a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy this long episode with host Koen van Seijen and co-host, Benedikt Boesel!


Love, Reciprocity, Compassion

Wendell Berry’s Mad Farmer Poems calls us to a radical reformation of the economy based on a set of virtues, which oftentimes is not obvious. These virtues — love, reciprocity, compassion, and radicalism — don’t guide our current financial economy and current commerce. Mad Agriculture does share these virtues and Phil and Brandon share more about this cause in this episode.

“I think what’s so beautiful about it is that the organization attracts people organically because it feels true, it feels righteous in the best sense of the word, It feels bold, ambitious. I think that that’s our essence, it’s our core, a revolution.” – Phil Taylor

Understanding The Farmer and Their Values

Phil and Brandon discuss how they are working with farmers to understand their essence and value system, before even pursuing talks about markets or the financier community. They work under a framework to reveal the value system of the farmer, such as the driving forces of to their relationship to the land. 

“That allows us to more deeply co-create and empower the farmer in their place because it’s very easy for a farm planter to come in and say, “Hey, you should do all this stuff” and then you leave and you’re done. Then nothing happens. What you have to do is to get in and empower, and inspire what’s already living within them.” – Brandon Welch

Start Small and Find an Early Win

The hosts ask Brandon and Phil where they start the process of change in the field and what kind of communication or reaction comes across. Phil answered the change has to be attuned to the farmer’s appetite for change.

“The key is to start small and finding early when you really believe that, you know, taking a risk is not easy for a farmer, and with how robust the systems that currently prevail are, we’ve got to be really careful in how we disrupt them.” – Phil Taylor

More Than Just Farm Planning

Phil and Brandon narrate a number of examples of how they work with the farmer and use their full wealth of connections. What they do is not just farm planning. They do it with awareness of market farm planning, capital, community with the hopes of bringing the whole system of change to bear. 

“We’ve been told for generations to do one thing and do one thing well. Specialize, be reductionistic and for that, our secret sauce is being generous. Being a community and just being free flow with all the dimensions of humanity. I mean, it’s so much fun and it’s where all the good work happens.” – Brandon Welch

More on The Perennial Fund

Phil and Brandon discuss about Mad Agriculture and The Perennial Fund. They share the current state of the company as of May 2020. You will also find in this episode a discussion about the current iteration of the product. 

Pay special attention to the discussion about debt forgiveness and the flexibility profit sharing or free cash flow revenue share.

To hear more about Mad Agriculture and Perennial Fund, listen to this episode!

This is an open process, we are sharing our lessons for the podcast episodes as we go along. so please share with us any examples of transition finance you’ve seen, utter inspiration, people to interview, get in touch by the contact page.


Discover more about the Transition Finance for Farmers with Benedikt series.

For feedback, ideas, suggestions please contact us through Twitter @KoenvanSeijen, in the comments below or through Get in Touch on this website.

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The above references an opinion and is for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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7 comments on “How to finance a radical transition while having skin in the game

  1. Angus Geddes says:

    I think it’s wonderful that your funding regenerative agriculture in temperate areas like the United States and Germany. How about finance for planned grazing operations in semi-arid places like inland Australia? In terms of soil carbon loss, it’s the semi arid areas and deserts that we need to be targeting. Yet in my district, only three farms are actively practicing planned grazing to build ground cover and perhaps in the long term soil carbon.

    1. Koenvanseijen says:

      Hi Angus, thank you for the comment, you are absolutely right, we have done interviews with SLM partners (Tony Lovell) specifically on their fund in Australia: Tony Lovell, how the $ 100M SLM fund handled the six driest years on record

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