Meeting Farmers and Ranchers Where They Are

Earlier this year, AgSpire announced our latest initiative – The SustainAg Network. Through this network, we are connecting farmers and ranchers to innovative programs and new markets that align with principles of conservation, sustainability, and regenerative agriculture.  

Read the announcement about The SustainAg Network Launch here >>> 

Since that announcement, the AgSpire team has traveled around the country to meet with producers, leading recruitment for our program portfolio. This boots-on-the-ground approach has given us the opportunity to meet with hundreds of farmers and ranchers, learning first-hand about their goals, motivations, and barriers to sustainable practice adoption.  

 These efforts have revealed several key takeaways for program design and implementation: 

> Producer interest and acceptance  

Producers want to do what is good for the land, their animals, and their businesses – and recognize the value that positive environmental outcomes bring to their operation. There is widespread interest in sustainability programs, both for private-market programs as well as public conservation programs, like EQIP or CSP.  

With a rapidly changing landscape though, many producers are seeking more clarity from these programs. Straightforward requirements, conscious data privacy policies, clear business and agronomic value, and simple incentive structures drive greater interest among farmers and ranchers. 

> Personalized assistance 

As we’ve traveled to different parts of the country, it’s evident that there isn’t – and can’t be – a one-size-fits-all approach to sustainability. Practices must be fine-tuned to an operation for successful implementation. Personalized assistance allows producers to problem-solve and find the right practices and tactics to achieve on-the-ground success.  

This reality contributes to a prevailing hesitation among producers to enroll in programs that lack human interaction. The assurance of one-on-one technical assistance has been a driving factor in program sign-ups so far, offering producers the comfort of relying on experienced individuals for guidance in deploying sustainable practices. 

> Producer-centric program design 

Overwhelmingly, producers are inclined towards voluntary, incentive-based programs that can layer into their current business operations. Rather than require entirely different production models and methods, programs and practices that can fit into and enhance current rotations and commodities have been well received.  

For example, our Grass is Greener program is a first-of-kind program that generates a premium for livestock based on regenerative practices without giving up efficiencies. The appeal lies in the fact that incentives are delivered in the form of practices, and premiums are seamlessly paid through the commodity, offering a straightforward and transparent structure.

AgSpire’s Matthew Delbar and Ryan Eichler met with producers at this year’s South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association Annual Convention.

Ryan Eichler shared about AgSpire’s work and The SustainAg Network with Agweek during the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association convention:

> Read the article here

> Or watch his interview here

About the Author

Director of Producer Programs

As the Director of Producer Programs, Ryan leads AgSpire’s work to build supply shed networks of producers who are interested in participating in Scope 3 carbon programs. Ryan brings 20 years of experience in the ag industry, working directly with producers in sales roles at companies that include Cargill, Elanco, DSM, and Millborn Seeds. A 2001 graduate of South Dakota State University, Ryan holds a B.S. degree in Animal Science. He and his Family live at rural Lake Preston, SD, where they are active in a family livestock farm.

AgSpire Celebrates Two Years

Born out of a passion for rural communities and positive land use practices, AgSpire has grown our staff, our services and offerings, our client portfolio, and our impact. The original staff members look back and share their reflections on the start of the company and the accomplishments of the last two years.

January 31, 2023 – This month, we celebrated the two-year work anniversary of our first employees: Vivian Georgalas and Jared Knock. And, therefore, the two-year anniversary of AgSpire itself. 

Two years ago, Vivian and Jared joined a mission. The unnamed venture was born out of a passion for rural people and a vision for implementing positive land use practices on farms and ranches around the country.  

With experience in native and regenerative seed sales – and having implemented sustainable practices on his own farm – Jared recognized the opportunity to work within agriculture supply chains, giving farmers and ranchers the right tools and management strategies for their land. 

Vivian came to AgSpire with experience in startups and economic development, previously working for two indoor farming companies. She has been integral in driving AgSpire’s mission forward and overseeing the company’s growth. 

Click to listen to a podcast with Jared discussing the start of AgSpire >>>Roots + Ruminants on Spotify

“Since the start, AgSpire has been a connector. With our knowledge of the sustainability space and deep roots in the agriculture community, we have been able to connect those who want to make changes on the land with those who can make the change,” Vivian shared. 

“Our goal is to simplify a complex landscape,” Jared added. “We help our clients understand sustainability from the agricultural perspective, providing strategy and project execution to meet science-based targets and pledges. At the same time, we take a hands-on approach with farmers and ranchers to implement those strategies. Our team advises them on the best practices that will work for their operation, as well as available public and private incentives.”

Click to see a case study of AgSpire’s work with Walmart >>> Partnership for Sustainable Beef

With driven staff and a strategy for our work in place, one thing remained to formalize the start of this company: a name. 

Vivian, who originally hails from Norway, suggested a word from her native language:  spire, which translates to ‘to sprout.’ This idea encapsulated the sprouting company, looking to inspire a path forward that makes agriculture a part of the solution for planetary health and societal benefit. With that, AgSpire was born. 

“It’s been amazing to see the company grow over the last two years. As we’ve expanded our client portfolio, we’ve been able to help those partners achieve real results toward their sustainability goals, while also delivering value for the producers we work with,” Jared reflected. 

“Not to mention, we’ve seen growth within our company too. From just us two in the beginning, we are proud to now be part of a larger team that shares our excitement for this work,” Vivian added. 

Click here to meet our team

Happy Two Years to Jared, Vivian, and AgSpire! 

AgSpire Increases Ability to Help Companies Meet Sustainability Goals


(BROOKINGS, SD) – AgSpire is committed to amplifying the implementation of positive land use practices through hands-on, customized plans with farmers and ranchers. As of November 1, AgSpire doubled their team, bringing on four individuals with vast experiences and a wide range of connections to help farmers and ranchers, as well as corporations and businesses, achieve their environmental and sustainability goals.

“AgSpire exists to advance adoption and implementation of climate-smart practices that benefit both the producer and corporations. These four new teammates, in roles such as Grazing and Rangeland Advisor and Senior Conservation Agronomist, expand AgSpire’s expertise in conservation practices, and their networks allow us to connect farmers using those practices to companies looking to meet their supply chain sustainability goals,” said Aline DeLucia, CEO of AgSpire.

Dale Strickler is a Grazing and Rangeland Advisor with more than 30 years of experience in agronomy, pasture management, and soil and crop advising. Strickler uses his bachelor’s degree in science education and Agronomy, as well as his master’s degree in Agronomy, to develop highly effective grazing systems for numerous ranchers with a range of often challenging climates and soil types. He is the author of three books: The Drought Resilient Farm, Managing Pasture, and The Complete Guide to Restoring Your Soil, which was named a top ten farming book for 2021 by Modern Farmer.

Derek Ver Helst’s experience and education makes him an excellent fit for AgSpire’s Senior Conservation Agronomist role. Ver Helst has more than 15 years of experience working with landowners and corporate organizations to design, manage, and validate research trials, maximizing short and long-term crop outputs while protecting the integrity of the environment. He has a wide range of knowledge in soil fertility, agronomic chemistry, and pest and disease
management. Ver Helst boasts a bachelor’s degree in biology with a minor in botany, a master’s degree in agronomy, and is a Certified Crop Advisor.

Matthew Delbar joins the team as a Grazing and Rangeland Advisor, and he brings a deep understanding of managing and restoring rangeland ecosystems throughout the United States. His experience as a rangeland management specialist with the USDA-NRCS in California, and degree in rangeland conservation and agricultural economics, is sure to benefit companies looking to connect with farmers to produce environmental benefits.

Christian Lovell joins AgSpire as a Project Manager with nearly a decade of experience working on federal agricultural policy in Washington, D.C. Most recently, Lovell was legislative director at the bipartisan National Governors Association where he oversaw federal advocacy and advised Governor’s and their staff on agricultural, rural, and environmental policies. Lovell will put his agricultural economics degree from Texas A&M to use collaborating with farmers, policy makers and corporations.