A wide-ranging conversation with Angus McIntosh, a regenerative ag pioneer in South Africa, about markets, carbon, nutrient density, cobalt, chemical-based fertilizer, large distribution, and so much more. He is the founder of the Farmer Angus brand.
LISTEN TO THE CONVERSATION ON:
BUILDING PERSONAL BRANDS IS FUNDAMENTAL
If changing the past were possible, Angus would have made the brand around himself right from the beginning. He always encourages farmers to try and brand them around themselves or their children rather than the farm. Unlike Europe, the South African government is desperate to push through a thing called expropriation without compensation which means that they take your land without paying you for it. So, it is important to not be tied to the land.
“Everything is sold under the Farmer Angus brand. […] what I’m telling you with this brand story is that in regenerative agriculture, Joel Salatin says it best, 50% of your time is focused on production and 50% is focused on marketing. And I said to you earlier, the regenerative agriculture movement, in my opinion, does a really bad job, or the organic world, also of telling the story, particularly around the quality of food.” – Angus McIntosh
“I didn’t want to do it around me, because it’s not about me, it’s about the movement. Anyway, she persisted, and she is right. And we’ve now refined the model even more, we’ve changed the logo, we now put my picture on the packaging. And all of that personalization has increased sales because people want to connect to another human being, there’s storytelling that they’re interested in.” – Angus McIntosh
THE BENEFITS OF THE SOIL CARBON MARKETS INTERTWINED WITH NUTRIENT-DENSITY FOOD
According to Angus, there’s a lot of bullshit and greenwashing with carbon. But if money is spent properly, carbon can actually be transformative. It’s a basic law of nature: the more carbon you have in your soils, the more nutrients your soils hold, the more water your soils hold, everything is healthier, the plants, brix is higher, and they’re more nutrient dense.
“It is a huge amount of hot air and hype and money being promised and a very competitive environment, very few people are actually giving money to farmers, very few. In South Africa we only know of ourselves who’ve received money […] we were paid by a bank. We went through this registry called credible carbon. Very interesting registry.” – Angus McIntosh
“What I have learned about the carbon market is that soil carbon is the gold standard. And I don’t mean to use gold standard because they’re a registry. But if you are increasing the carbon, your soils, it’s the carbon credits that will earn the most money, not forestry or diverting waste, you know there’s a lot of income streams for carbon, or putting up solar panels, the most reliable one is increasing the carbon in the soil. And it then has the greatest benefit up for drought, for nutrition, for job creation, all of these things.” – Angus McIntosh
“We’re a carbon planet. Carbon is the scaffolding of life. The most stable place for carbon to be is in the soil. So if we can reward people for keeping carbon in the soil, all the better for it […] The farms that build in carbon will have the highest nutrient density products.” – Angus McIntosh
STACKING BUSINESSES IS KEY
Even though the current trend is to plant everything close together as that way you’re presumably going to increase the yield per hectare, Angus tells the story of a farmer who’s gone the opposite way.
“I’m going 12 meters by 12 meters. I’m planting these insane pastures in between and miscatelor grazing there, rotational grazing. The result is he’s going to make as much money of beef as he is of pecanuts per hectare. And then I’m adding the third income stream for him, which is carbon. And I’m trying to persuade him to add a fourth income stream, which is the seeds of the cover crops. I’d be investing in places where it’s possible to do stacking like that. Multiple income streams, the same piece of land. It would be great if there was already an established brand. But, you know, it all depends on the impact that the investor wants to have.” – Angus McIntosh
OTHER POINTS DISCUSSED
Koen and Angus also talked about:
- Cobalt, Congo and slave labour
- Nuclear power, energy and chemical fertilizers
- Plant-based diet and highly processed products
- Farmer Angus
- Joe Rogan Show – Siddharth Kara on Cobalt
- The Great Simplification Podcast
- Credible carbon registry Cape Town
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals – Micheal Pollan book
- CIBO Technologies
- Johannes Scheibe on using carbon credits to transition from understocked and overgrazed to zero input grazing
- Federico Romeri on disrupting the €7,5B Italian CAFO factory farmed beef market
- Matt Chatfield – I’m too lazy to farm against nature
- Zach Bush on why all health issues come back to how we treat the soil
- Nutrient Density in Food series
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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.