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Justin Webb AgriWebb

Justin Webb from AgriWebb talks – Emissions reduction

Agriwebb arguably has visibility over more head of livestock and acres of grazing and farmland than anyone else with over 20 million sheep and cattle and 125 million acres being managed through their systems.  Agriwebb is now working with their customers to reduce carbon emissions. A key aspect of Agriwebb’s success is that by becoming the trusted partner of farmers and ranchers, who are collecting large amounts of production data, they can create a digital paper trail that makes it easier to target value adding certifications such as carbon neutral beef or participate in carbon sequestration schemes.

AgriWebb strongly believes that livestock production systems can be productive, profitable, and sustainable all at the same time. However, whilst technologies already exist that can enable these improvements the issues of who pays for these technologies, who captures the premiums and how premiums are shared, and how risk is shared across the supply chain are still significant hurdles to change.

I recently caught up with Justin Webb, AgriWebb’s Co-Founder and Executive Chairman to discuss how AgriWebb is working to improve food sustainability globally. You can listen to our conversation here and an edited summary is below.

AS

Justin, thank you for joining me today. The impact of livestock on climate change I see that as an opportunity as well as a significant liability. What opportunities do you see in this space and where are your areas of concern?

JW

Well, firstly, thanks so much for having me on. I think that reexamining the sustainability and efficiency of our food production is frankly paramount. From my perspective, Agriwebb is trusted partner of farmers and ranchers. And just as we’ve helped tens of thousands of farmers, adopt digital tools to look after more than 20 million head of livestock, we are now working to develop a sustainable approaches to reduce those carbon emissions. AgriWebb users ultimately are seeking to measure their inventory, the grass they grow, and they want to optimize that conversion of that grass into beef or lamb. Pastures carbon sequestration enables those producers to create more resilient, more productive land with less synthetic input. The data also provides a digital paper trail that makes it easier to target value adding certifications, such as carbon neutral beef, or participate in carbon sequestration schemes. And I think the amazing thought here is the beef and lamb production industry, that the UN FAO cites is responsible for about 10 – 13% of global greenhouse emissions cannot just reduce its carbon footprint, but it can actually become net carbon negative. So we can leverage ag tech to turn one of our biggest social and ethical challenges into one of our greatest solutions. And to me, that’s pretty cool.

AS

What are the concerns in that space?

JW

Farmers should know that capitalizing on the carbon opportunity will demand accurate data and systematic reporting. However, there’s no kind of silver bullets just yet. The contention around soil testing methods, methodologies, the frequency of testing the location, the operational practices that exist on top of rotational grazing, all of that see really hot debate. So, I guess the point I’m trying to drive and where there’s the caveat is there’s lots of risk, and you wonder, well, who does carry that risk?

Probably not the Carbon Project manufacturers who purchase the carbon credits, it probably comes back to the people that sold it ie the farmers. And that to me is misplaced because if you’re trying to incentivize these producers to be engaged with offering their land for this carbon solution. You can’t just lump them as well with the risk on something that they have absolutely no control over. So to me, the whole thing is recording data empowers the farmer to be the owner of their own fate.

AS

Farmers are the ones who are taking the risk. That said, the place where the greatest potential to capture that risk is customer facing, it’s at the it’s in the grocery stores or the supermarkets. So, where risk is captured and where it’s valued is not the same place. Is there anything you can add to that?

JW

I think I think it’s a fascinating and clearly neither you nor I know if the two of us together are going to be able to solve this but I think we can start to chip away at the edges.  And one of the amazing transitions we’ve seen is that consumers are walking into supermarkets and making decisions about their protein purchases. Red meat is the most the most valuable product to the retailer in the retail store. Not necessarily because it cost per kilogram or pound. But because it’s what’s called a basket filler. And when a millennial purchaser walks in, and she is making the decision about what to put in their basket. There is a bit do I really want this leg lamb or this T bone with a side of guilt. Now that’s a really terrifying prospect for major retails, supermarkets, wholefoods, Walmart, Sainsbury’s, Tescos, Woolworths and Coles around the world. So how do these retailers backup claims that say this meat is not only representative of animal welfare but also environmental welfare and how do we assert that and how do we label it? How do we represent it because it is fundamentally critical to how purchases and making those decisions? So I think coming back to the only way you validate that labels is by going right back to the paddocks the fields and calculate it, measuring the growth of the animal itself, of the antibiotic treatments, of pasture growth rates, of the carbon sequestration or recapture of the farts and burps from that ruminant animal back into the plant regrowth of the grass and the soil. However, it does demand that the supermarkets and the retailers themselves step up to take responsibility through the supply chain. They have to be the ones making calls into the wedge of profitability, to start to pay for the software, the tools, the hardware on farm to be able to recall that information and pass it right the way through the supply chain.

AS

I’m completely agree that the two of us aren’t going to solve this ourselves. It’s a very complex problem and comes down to consumers being able to make the right choices for the right reasoning reasons and having the right information to be informed and be able to make those choices. And I think as you said the younger consumers are certainly much more active in that space than then people from older generations.

AS

I’m gathering from what you’re saying that you think it’s much more of a systems approach. Is that Is that where you see the answer, through collaboration and partnership?

JW

I said earlier, there’s no silver bullet. There’s no single solution. And I think that that is true. We’re talking about a massive industry of literally feeding the world. And so it’s not surprising that there isn’t a single path. This is true right down to the consumer. The solution is not just the growth of plant based proteins because of their huge ecological environmental footprint. So, I think that you’re coming back to the space that I’m working in to empower the livestock industry with the best tools to feed the world sustainably, profitably, and efficiently. And I couldn’t think of a more motivating mission. If we truly want to deliver on providing our food production industry with the best possible tools, then we need to be providing the same access to cutting edge intuitive, Insight driven tech that’s been already prioritized in other major business sectors for decades. And I think it’s our vision that it’s not only Agriwebb that it’ll bring these solutions to market that allow farmers to own their future but all the other innovators will join in this mission and we hope we can lead by example.

AS

Thank you very much, mate. Is there is there anything else you’d like to add that we haven’t already covered?

JW

My call to action is if anyone is listening to this and is you know, inspired, intrigued by the mission that Agriwebb is on. We are hiring. We’re looking for really good talent to come in and help drive our business forward. Whether that’s in in Colorado in the US in London in the UK or in Sydney here. We would we’d love to love to hear from you. So please reach out to Agriwebb.com and have a look at some of our job postings and come join the mission.

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