Northeast Farm Access, LLC’s purpose is to attract, manage and disburse resources that equitably promote and sustain agriculture and access to good local food in the Northeast. NEFA relies on a broad network of investment and farm partnerships to supply community knowledge and technical assistance to specific projects where required. NEFA seeks to address gaps in the investor/farmer/land relationship, in order to secure successful demonstration projects while stimulating further investment into agricultural land. NEFA works with financial, agricultural and community-development technical experts, who ensure that resources are invested in agriculturally and financially sound projects with the greatest chances of success.
Within the business sector, investment principles operate under the limited rule that potential return or profit increases as risk or uncertainty increase. Among the social-investment community, this principle is firmly tied to broad ethical issues of human rights and environmental sustainability. This is often described as creating desirable social change through financially profitable activities, and summarized as, “Doing good, by doing well.”
For effective social investing in agricultural projects, NEFA assists each investor in answering very specific questions about project context:
- What impact does this investment have on the quality of life of the involved farmer, investor, and land?
- How does this investment make a responsible and fundamental difference to accelerated and sustained change in how agricultural land is maintained within the community?
- How does this investment leverage a flexible and effective partnership among the investor, the farmer and the land?
- How does this investment contribute to farmer and investor equity, inclusion and diversity? What social values are realized as a return from this investment?
- What ethical and social justice principles underlie this investment and this agricultural project?
- What principles of transparency and accountability are in place for this investment?
- How does this investment make, attract and leverage additional financial resources for this project and/or this community in the future?
- At what rate should the various returns and profits accumulate to farmer, investor and land? What are acceptable rates of return and profit margins, given the project context?
For a social investment, the process of asking these questions is seen as a fundamental part of both the risk and the return of the investment, rather than being merely the administrative structure in which the investment is managed. The answers to these questions determine the acceptable risk and desired return for a specific project.