Financing the transition to regenerative agriculture is essential. Farmers need new forms of finance to enable new types of investment because time horizons, risks and expected outputs and outcomes for regenerative agriculture are different when compared with conventional agriculture. 

It’s why, as part of the Growing our Future initiative, Forum for the Future has explored two questions:

What if businesses and society supported, promoted and remunerated ecologically replenishing and social justice outcomes from our food and fiber industries?

What if these financial tools reflected the needs of all producers, subverting power dynamics to drive social equity in historically underserved communities?

Ecosystem Service Markets (ESM) – in which producers can get paid for the quantified and verified benefits provided to society – are rapidly emerging as one potential platform in support of these ideas. To explore these questions, we’re leading an ESM pilot in cotton growing systems to better understand the barriers and opportunities ESMs face as potential enablers of companies, retailers, and brands to participate in de-risking the adoption of regenerative practices for cotton farmers. 

What we've learned

So far, we’ve learned that ecosystems services markets play an essential role in promoting regenerative agriculture, but they are not a panacea. Specifically, ecosystem services markets have yet to design platforms in a way that reflects – and addresses – social inequity. The work dives into the fundamental design complexities with how these emergent marketplaces are approaching their baselining and remuneration. Initial learnings begin to explore crucial questions, such as how early adopters of regenerative systems aren’t able to access these markets, and the long-term ecological and social ramifications of a marketplace that rewards transitioning grasslands to arable lands. 

As we move forward, we’ll use the learnings from this pilot to drive more socially just and agronomically regenerative financial tools for US producers. 

Going beyond off-setting: The case for insetting in climate adaptation and regenerative agricultural production

Initial learnings and critical reflections from our ongoing pilot, in partnership Ecosystem Services Market Consortium, to inform budding climate solutions in agriculture

Download the publication

Join us

To join the work on exploring innovations to finance the transition to a regenerative agriculture system, contact Hannah Cunneen.

Learn more about the Growing our Future initiative and our work to catalyze the transition to a just and regenerative agriculture system in the US

Funding provided by 

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The research included in the toolkits and publications was made possible through funding by the Walmart Foundation, The VF Foundation, David Rockefeller Fund and Nestlé. The findings, conclusions, and recommendations presented here are those of Forum for the Future alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of our funders.