* This interview was conducted ahead of the Cultivate Conference which took place on July 15, 2021.
Allison Nepveux is the Director of Sustainability at Bushel a company based right out of Fargo, North Dakota that is working “to transform how the ag industry connects with their producers in an increasingly digital world.” She is also the Co-Host of the conference.
What is the importance of events like Cultivate?
Something that I personally really missed over the past year was the organic conversations that happen at events. So much of what is required to truly move the needle in agriculture can’t be accomplished by one company or concept alone. It is the coming together of ideas, theories, technologies, and experiences. Those can be jump started through panel discussions and hallway conversations. I’m energized by the opportunity for more of those connections and the idea generation that springs up from that.
What are you hoping is accomplished at the conference?
There is so much opportunity right now in how technology can support the sustainable efforts throughout the agricultural supply chain. The more we can all come together and bring our best ideas, it’s going to help everyone.
How does Bushel work towards sustainability?
Right now, our primary focus is centered around helping our customers answer this question. We know that consumers are demanding more sustainable products and our aim is to enable the technologies that grain facilities are using to answer that call to action.
What is the importance of that?
Agriculture has a powerful role to play in the sustainability story. What we’ve struggled with in the past is the ability to quantify and verify that sustainability story in a way that doesn’t overly burden farmers. I think we’re at a real inflection point of change. We’re now seeing money and incentives line up behind the farming community. Our belief is that this space is becoming more win-win-win: if farmers are winning – so can the local facility, so can the downstream customer.
What message do you want to get across to growers?
We want to empower growers to take advantage of the opportunities in the market when they arise. There’s still a lot of uncertainty about how the market will reward sustainability – but it will reward sustainability in some form. We know this. We see this coming. I think it’s important for farmers to arm themselves with data about their operations. Start keeping a digital record of your practices. Upload your field boundaries. Do the work to get your current state of operations into an FMS (ANY FMS!) – it will give you the power to act quickly and knowledgeably down the road.
Why do you think your message is important to growers?
Most farmers that I know don’t record their practices online. It makes it a heavier lift (and a slower process) for creating the baseline that will eventually help them get paid.
What do you see as some of the biggest issues currently facing growers?
This is something I’m hoping to hear more from growers themselves.
What do you see as some of the solutions to those problems?
One thing I am really excited about is the potential to connect links in the supply chain. So much of what has previously existed in our industry were silos of data. This disconnected and disjointed approach to data ultimately inhibited the entire value chain’s ability to minimize risk in the system. I think we are on the cusp of creating an infrastructure that rewards and empowers players along the entire system. And, I think sustainability and carbon are two of the first places where we’ll see that come to life.