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Agricultural News


A Letter from Noble CEO and President Steve Rhines

Fri, 12 Nov 2021 14:12:38 CST

Dear Farmers and Ranchers,

We have a belief at Noble that everything we do — every decision, every activity, every day of work — is dedicated to serving you, the farmer and rancher. So, whenever an important decision is made, we want to make sure you know the what and the why of the decision.

Noble Research Institute has come to an important moment in its history. It is time for change, and that change impacts how we will be able to serve you in the near term and how we hope to empower others to transform 655 million acres of grazing and pastureland in the long term.

We want to be transparent about these changes. We value the relationships we have forged with you and all we have served. We will continue to foster and build relationships with those who wish to come along on the regenerative journey, new friends and old. This is a pivotal moment in Noble’s history, so let me explain.

In spring 2020, Noble Research Institute announced we were focusing all our operations on regenerative ranching, specifically targeting the singular goal of regenerative land stewardship in grazing animal production with lasting producer profitability. Since this decision, all Noble programs have been under examination and redesign. We have been looking at everything from how we run our ranches to how we conduct research to answer critical producer-generated questions.

At times, this process has been difficult. Change is hard. To be candid, this is a necessary undertaking for a 75-year-old organization. The world you operate in is ever-changing — with unstable markets, rapidly increasing fertilizer and input costs, decreasing water availability and changing weather patterns. These are just a few examples of conditions you must navigate while attempting to be profitable. Prior to our spring 2020 announcement, we recognized we weren’t doing enough to help producers navigate these challenges.

We are willing to take big steps, look at things differently and change beyond what makes us comfortable. We do this with the recognition that there will be some stumbles or even failures along the way. However, this is a necessary next step for Noble to offer you greater value for your operation and help you leave a ranching legacy.

So how does this decision affect you?

Today, we are taking the next step in Noble’s transformation. We are going to evaluate and redesign our consultation services and educational programming. This requires us to stop what we’re doing now and plan for the next stage. Therefore, effective Monday, Nov. 15, we will temporarily pause our consulting and educational activities, including consultant farm visits and all workshops, seminars and educational programs.

In addition, we are taking the important step of discontinuing Noble’s Ag Helpline. We believe it is necessary to understand the context of your operations before simply offering technical assistance or direction. A “one-and-done” phone conversation does not reflect the intent of what we are building.

Consultation and farmer and rancher education have been a part of Noble since Lloyd Noble founded this organization 75 years ago. Let me assure you that these programs will remain cornerstones of Noble’s commitment to farmers and ranchers; however, they will look and function differently in the future. In the next few months, we must determine how to be most effective and useful to you as we scale our services to a national audience.

By the time we have completed this process, we intend to be able to provide educational and consulting programs that will equip you to effectively manage your operations using the application of regenerative principles within your context. Our research — which is grounded in answering questions from producers — will focus on answering your production and economic questions. We want to ensure our educational tools and offerings remain relevant and dynamic.

This process will take time. We will create and share a plan framework with you by April 2022. The education/consulting program that we design this fall and next spring will then be fully developed through the summer of next year. We tentatively plan to launch the initial components of our new programs in fall 2022.

While we have confidence that what we are building will be an invaluable tool for you, your ranch and its operations, we understand you may have needs today. If you are launching or maintaining your regenerative ranching operations, these organizations are available to help you: Understanding Ag, Ranching for Profit, Savory Institute and Holistic Management International. Additional information about these organizations can be found at: https://www.noble.org/regenerative-partners/. Why share these other organizations? Because if you have questions now, you need answers now. Regenerative ranching is a multi-year journey, and we are preparing to be with you on that journey.

This is not the only note you will receive. We will continue to provide regular updates each month about the progress of this journey. Further, we will share our own transition from conventional management to regenerative management through our social media channels. You can explore regenerative ranching by connecting with us on social media or signing up for our free weekly newsletter, Noble Rancher, at www.noble.org/subscribe.

We want your feedback — positive or negative — about this step. You can send your thoughts to Adam Calaway, director of communications and public relations, at jacalaway@noble.org; Hugh Aljoe, director of producer relations, at hdaljoe@noble.org; or me at sprhines@noble.org.

Thank you,

Steve Rhines, President and CEO

 

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