Opportunities to invest in regenerative agriculture and food have increased dramatically in the past five years and for good reason. As awareness around regenerative agriculture grows, so too has the understanding of the multi-faceted benefits it can provide, particularly in addressing some major global challenges – including climate change and biodiversity loss – and some sector specific challenges – including declining farmer incomes and the decline of rural communities. For the professional investor, these new investment opportunities are diverse and relatively plentiful, including venture capital and real asset funds, and a growing number of direct projects ranging from on-farm technology all the way to emerging brands to direct capital to. But what about the non-accredited investor? What options exist for these investors or aspiring investors to fund regeneration?
Who is an accredited investor and who is non-accredited?
An accredited investor is defined by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates and enforces federal securities law. To be considered an accredited investor, an individual must meet certain income and professional criteria that are designed to be a litmus for an individual’s financial sophistication.
Financial thresholds include:
- Net worth over $1 million, excluding primary residence (individually or with spouse or partner)
- Income over $200,000 (individually) or $300,000 (with spouse or partner) in each of the prior two years, and reasonably expects the same for the current year
Alternatively, professional criteria include:
- Investment professionals in good standing holding the general securities representative license (Series 7), the investment adviser representative license (Series 65), or the private securities offerings representative license (Series 82)
- Directors, executive officers, or general partners (GP) of the company selling the securities (or of a GP of that company)
- Any “family client” of a “family office” that qualifies as an accredited investor
- For investments in a private fund, “knowledgeable employees” of the fund
The SEC explains that certain securities offerings are exempt from registration and may only be offered to, or purchased by, persons who are “accredited investors.” In contrast, this means there are certain investment offerings that are closed to those that do not meet accredited investor status, that is – non-accredited investors.
How to invest in regenerative agriculture if you are a non-accredited investor?
To this point, there are far fewer vehicles for investment in regenerative agriculture and food for non-accredited investors, so we have identified some of these here.
Through a unique crowd-lending approach, Steward allows any type of investor to help fund regenerative farming. The company has developed two different vehicles to support regenerative operations with pooled debt capital. Steward Regenerative Capital is an evergreen loan platform that provides short-term bridge loans to farms and food producers who need relatively quick access to funds to keep their operations growing. Individuals can invest as little as $100 all the way up to $1 million, receive 5.75% annual interest rate, and get paid monthly – making it super easy for anyone.
Steward also offers funding opportunities through individual campaigns for specific operations. These are typically aligned with a very specific operational need – such as new equipment purchases, infrastructure builds, or property acquisition. You can find a list of previously funded projects here.
Learn more about Steward.
Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT
A REIT – or a real estate investment trust – are companies that own or finance income-producing real estate across a range of property sectors. Reit.com explains that “REITs allow anyone to invest in portfolios of real estate assets the same way they invest in other industries – through the purchase of individual company stock or through a mutual fund or exchange traded fund (ETF). The stockholders of a REIT earn a share of the income produced – without actually having to go out and buy, manage or finance property.”
Unique to the regenerative and organic agriculture space, Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT works with diverse, impact-oriented investors to provide organic and regenerative farmers with increased land security through long-term leases and mortgages. Since its founding in 2007, Iroquois Valley has deployed $85 million in funding across the United States, working with more than 650 investors. Using two vehicles called REIT Equity Shares and Soil Restoration Notes, the company raises equity and debt capital that can ultimately provide returns for investors, long-term security for farmers, and has positive impacts on soil health, water, air, biodiversity and much more.
Learn more about Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT.
Walden Mutual Bank
Ok, so this isn’t actually an investing platform but putting your money into Walden Mutual will support the regenerative movement. Walden Mutual is a community owned bank that was created to “enable anyone to make positive and lasting change to our local food ecosystem.” They do this by putting depositors savings funds to work through loans that support local food systems in New York and new England. For example, through their Grow Local accounts, individuals can earn 3% APY on savings while impacting local food systems.
Learn more about Walden Mutual Bank.
Growing Opportunities Abroad
There are a growing number of opportunities abroad for retail investors. Here are some we have identified:
UK-based Regenerate Ventures invests in agricultural innovation with a positive impact on the health of the planet, society and climate. UK regulation is less stringent than that of the US (SEC) accreditation in regards to individuals who are eligible to invest in retail funds. Please see the UK criteria for UK retail investors here. Regenerate Ventures AgTech Fund can take (and already has) U.S. and Canadian retail investors.
Learn more about Regenerate Ventures.
Organic Investment Cooperative
The Organic Investment Cooperative (or ORICoop), out of Australia, is an innovative, cooperative-based organization, focused on bringing together farmers, businesses, eaters and like-minded investors for better outcomes. The Organization has opened the ORCA Investment Opportunity, which is open for investment from Oricoop Members as retail investors or wholesale investors.
Learn more about ORICoop and its investment opportunities.
What other opportunities are out there for non-accredited investors? Please share with us here, so we can help spread the word.
Disclaimer: Regenerative Food Systems Investment (RFSI) is a media organization and is NOT a registered investment, legal or tax advisor or broker/dealer. All opinions expressed and content provided are for informational purposes only. Please seek advice from a licensed professional and independently verify any information provided. In no case shall RFSI be responsible for any damages, direct or indirect, in any way whatsoever, including damages related to investment that come from connections made using the information in this or other resources shared.