UNH Sustainability Fellowship: New Hampshire Community Loan Fund Sustainable Agriculture Project Manager
New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
Sustainable Agriculture Project Manager
Concord, New Hampshire
This Fellowship position is proudly supported by Bangor Savings Bank.
About the Host Organization:
The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund is a statewide, nonprofit, community development financial institution (CDFI) located in Concord, NH. The organization provides the financing and educational tools people need to have affordable homes, quality jobs and childcare, and to become financially independent.
About the Fellowship:
Changes to our global food system are essential to meet climate targets. Although there is great potential for carbon sequestration and climate benefits from agriculture in the Northeast, the full potential has not been realized due to financial and carbon measurement barriers. This Fellowship will help fill this gap through the development of tools that identify both climate-friendly agricultural practices and the financial barriers to implementation.
There is a rapidly growing interest in the agricultural lending/investment arena around climate-smart technology and carbon capture. Carbon sequestration/credits on agricultural soils are more of a challenge for the Northeast region because of the minimal working production acreage compared to that of the Midwest. Measurement tools and protocols for carbon sequestration are in development. Thus far, the credits are not providing sufficient benefits to the farmer to encourage changes in farming practices. Carbon sequestration in soil is still primarily in the research stage and some say may take another 5-10 years to develop the right tools & metrics.
However, current farm practices do have carbon sequestration and climate benefits. The science shows that crop management practices have great potential to mitigate climate change, but there is still much to be understood. The research shows that there are many agricultural strategies that can support carbon and climate benefits, such as organic practices, soil biology, precision agriculture, irrigation management, pasture management/grazing, low emissions machinery, biologicals, feed additives, farm surplus markets, shelf-life extension, food waste reduction, and no/low till agriculture.
The objective of this work is to develop a criteria checklist of carbon sequestration and climate benefits production and business practices that the farm business has implemented or wishes to implement. The Fellow will evaluate a variety of proven programs and establish a matrix of practices based on several implementation barriers, such as ineligibility for conventional financing, insurance ineligibility, lack of market incentives, and income loss during transition. In addition, if impact data of carbon sequestration and/or climate benefits practices is available from the Northeast Regional Climate Hub, Northeast Foresters Association, Nature Conservancy or Land Grant University it shall be identified and document the sources for future reference.
From the above-mentioned work, a literature review, research, and discussions with Community Loan Fund staff, the Fellow will develop a financial ranking tool that identifies the highest and best climate risk mitigation practices for farm businesses in the Northeast region and if possible, establish baseline criteria to define natural capital assets for New Hampshire working lands.
In addition, the Fellow will interview or survey a variety of farm businesses and service providers to understand what areas of the checklist they see as priorities to implement, what technical assistance may be needed for implementation either prior to, during or after implementation and what financial incentives would they prefer to assist them with putting practices in place and/or awarding them for implementation.
The outcome will be a report of the findings including 1) a ranked matrix checklist tool, 2) financial ranking tool for the carbon sequestration and climate impact of agricultural practices in the Northeast, and 3) stakeholder input towards a financial rebate program.
- The ranked matrix checklist tool will list each sustainable agriculture practice and the Fellow will work with staff to rank the practice based on how the practice mitigates climate change, enhances climate resilience, and enhances soil health.
- The financial ranking tool for the carbon sequestration and climate impact of agricultural practices in the Northeast will identify the financial barriers that farm businesses face to implement each practice and will estimate the amount of dollars needed to implement the practice.
- The stakeholder input towards a financial rebate program will be a summary of feedback collected by the Fellow through surveys of farm businesses and service providers.
The Fellow will develop an understanding of alternative financing with a mission-driven lender (Community Development Finance Institute) versus conventional financing. The Fellow will expand their network through connections to key NH Agriculture service providers and diversified farm business owners. The Fellow will also gain a broad understanding of key organizations working in climate smart and sustainable business practices.
The project will advance carbon sequestration and climate benefits in agriculture in the Northeast through the development of tools that identify both climate-friendly practices and financial barriers. The tools developed through this Fellowship will be implemented in a one-to-three-year pilot phase after completion of the final report. Following improvements from the pilot phase, the tools and approach will be rolled out across the food system value chain where applicable in the Northeast.
- Academic Background - Sustainability, Business, Economics, Natural Resources and/or Agriculture related Majors.
- Experience – Customer service or community organizing.
- General / Soft Skills - Communication and collaboration skills. Self-starter and ability to flexibly manage and prioritize tasks.
- Technical / Specialized Skills - Strong research/analysis skills
- Interests - agricultural finance, climate change impacts, food systems and/or diversified agriculture.
- Familiarity with mission-driven lending (Community Development Financial Institution) is helpful.
New Hampshire Community Loan Fund
7 Wall Street
Concord, NH 03301
Work will be performed online.
Charlene Andersen, Farm and Food Lender
Betsy Segal, Director of Business & Community Finance
Sarah Marchant, Chief of Staff