Regenerative Farming – A New Approach to Agriculture

About the Episode

Impact investing can make a difference in regenerative agriculture. Will Harris, a 4th-generation farmer in rural Georgia, talks about the evolution of the beef industry into a vertically integrated food system, the positive impacts of grass-fed beef, and the benefits to animal welfare – areas that are returning to being valued aspects of food production. Will weaves this into a broader discussion of how to make farming more sustainable, more environmentally friendly, and more beneficial to us all.

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“If everyone who could afford to will find a farmer as local as possible who is farming in a way that is pleasing to them as close to where they live as possible and support them – that farmer will do well, and that will influence other farmers to go that way. This solution is probably impossible, but it is so damn easy.”

Will Harris

In this Episode

0:57 What is the history of White Oak Pastures?
3:14 What does regenerative farming mean? How is it implemented at White Oak Pastures?
8:22 What are the impacts of being grass-fed on the cattle and the environment?
10:50 How does eating beef and pork from unhealthy animals affect human health?
15:38 Is the grass-fed beef found in supermarkets of a different caliber than other feed methods?
17:25 What should a consumer look for besides grass-fed and organic beef?
19:15 What will be the following significant change in the beef industry in the coming years?
21:13 Is running a business the way White Oak Pastures does challenging versus running it more industrially?
24:45 Why is grass-fed beef expensive?
30:33 What are some potential changes that could be made in the beef industry?
37:48 What feedback did Will Harris receive from being on the Joe Rogan show?
41:03 Can the electronic industry be revolutionized? How can that impact the beef industry?
42:40 What significant positive changes have occurred in the past 10 to 15 years that may lead to significant developments in the beef industry?
46:44 Are there economies of scale that will make beef more affordable?
49:45 Is big tech associated with big food?
52:20 Are there other problems stemming from industrialized farming methods with animals, grains, fruits, and vegetables?
58:25 Will Harris’ thoughts on capitalism in the U.S. and other countries.
1:02:45 What is the most rewarding thing about running a farm?
1:11:20 How can impact investing help sustainable and regenerative farming?

Learn More About This Episode

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Acronyms or Terms Used in This Episode

  • Economies of Scale: Cost efficiency through increased production.
  • Grass-fed: Livestock raised on natural pasture.
  • USDA: United States Department of Agriculture – federal agency for agriculture and food.
  • VC: Venture Capital – startup investment funding.
  • Big Food: This term refers to large companies in the food manufacturing, processing, and retailing sectors, but it can also refer to large agricultural producers and companies that provide agricultural inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides.
  • Big Tech: Big Tech, also known as the Tech Giants, is the largest information technology company, and it includes Google, Amazon, and Microsoft.

Meet Our Guest

Will Harris

Will Harris

Owner of White Oak Pastures, Inc.

Will Harris is a fourth-generation cattleman, tending the same land his great-grandfather settled in 1866. Born and raised at White Oak Pastures, Will left home to attend the University of Georgia’s School of Agriculture, where he was trained in the industrial farming methods that had taken hold after World War II. After graduation, Will returned to White Oak Pastures, where he and his father continued to raise cattle using pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and antibiotics. They also fed their herd a high-carbohydrate diet of corn and soy.

These tools did a fantastic job of taking the cost out of the system, but in the mid-1990s, Will became disenchanted with the excesses of these industrialized methods. In 1995, Will made the audacious decision to return to the farming methods his great-grandfather had used 130 years before.

Since Will has successfully implemented these changes, he has been recognized all over the world as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability. Will lives in his family home on the property with family, including two of his children who are continuing the family farming tradition.

Location Location: Bluffton, Georgia

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