FAYETTEVILLE, ARK. (Aug. 8, 2019) — AcreTrader, the farmland investing company, hired Ben Maddox to join the growing Farm Operations team.
Ben is an active manager of his family’s cattle farm, and for the last five years worked on project finance with Heifer International, supporting farmers around the world. He is pursuing an Executive MBA from the Sam M. Walton College of Business, and will be leading farm sourcing and analysis efforts for new AcreTrader Offerings.
“Ben is bringing the perfect mixture of intellectual curiosity, process-driven analytical ability, and practical farm experience, which makes him a great addition to our farm operations team. He has already made strong contributions, and we couldn’t be more excited to have him on board,” said Garrott McClintock, VP of Farm Operations for AcreTrader.
We sat down with Ben for a Q&A to learn what inspires him about agriculture and motivates him to work on the growing AcreTrader team.
What led you into agriculture?
My first job in agriculture was more than 10 years ago when I started working summers on a farm in college. During that time, I also completed a fellowship studying agroecology in southern Mexico. What I learned from this and my subsequent work in agriculture is that the immense task of feeding the planet looks remarkably similar across different contexts. Cattle ranchers in Arkansas and small maize farmers in Mexico, for example, are subject to many of the same fundamental challenges and opportunities in the pursuit of growing a reliable and sustainable supply of food and fiber.
One thing that really excites me about agriculture is that, through thoughtful planning and best practices, we have the opportunity to break out of a zero-sum cycle of consumption in which our production and use of a resource inevitably reduces or degrades it. Agriculture - when practiced with skill, intention and care – has the ability to use land productively and improve it at the same time, which may be counterintuitive at first but should provide us all with a great deal of hope for the future.
Tell us about your work at Heifer International?
Heifer International is a great organization that works to combat hunger and poverty in over 20 countries around the world. Heifer is focused on building wealth for small farmers through value chain creation and facilitating equitable market connections. I was fortunate enough to work with several different international offices during my five years with the organization and focused mainly on developing farmer-owned agribusinesses that could provide both a financial and a social return.
What books would we find on your bookshelf?
My most recent read has been “The Wizard and Prophet” by Charles Mann. It’s an incredibly thoughtful exploration of the promises and realities of the Green Revolution in agriculture from the point of view of several of its key protagonists. It’s required reading for anyone trying to understand how we got to this moment in American agriculture and what the future might look like.
On perhaps the more philosophical end, Wendell Berry’s “The Unsettling of America” has been the most important book I’ve read about the perils and potentials of agriculture. We’ve done an amazing job of boosting farm productivity over the last fifty years, but we have to also occasionally humble ourselves in recognition of the excesses and errors we’ve committed in that pursuit. This book provides a great opportunity to reflect on the true, and often hidden, cost of all of that growth.
What is your general approach to life and work?
My approach to life and work is really all about embracing incrementalism and the power of small actions. When we’re faced with large challenges at work or in our personal lives, it can be easy to become paralyzed by the scope of the task at hand. But, what’s been important for me is to realize that success, regardless of the scope or nature of the endeavor, rarely comes in leaps and bounds. Rather, it’s the discipline and daily commitment to seemingly mundane tasks and actions that ultimately allows us to achieve our goals. I think it’s really important to size up a challenge and be able to deconstruct it into small enough pieces that we can fully process and manage on a day to day basis.
What do you like most about AcreTrader?
We’re growing fast! AcreTrader’s platform is both unique and flexible and has the ability to work at a large scale. The market for farmland is very decentralized and opaque, and that doesn’t serve the financial interest of landowners or buyers particularly well. Our platform is bringing thousands of farmers and investors together and shaping that marketplace in a way that increases transparency and efficiency for buyers and sellers alike.
What have you enjoyed working on so far in your time at AcreTrader?
I’ve got to say that speaking with the farmers is far and above the best part of my day. Agriculture in the United States is changing rapidly right now, and a lot of farmers are looking for ways to adapt and grow in this dynamic environment. It’s important to hear how farmers are processing all of these opportunities and of course, it’s great when AcreTrader can be of help to them when they’re looking to buy, sell, or lease land to grow their operations.
AcreTrader is an investment platform that makes it easy to own shares of farmland and earn passive income, starting in just minutes with an online account. Founded in 2018, AcreTrader aims to provide transparency, security, and liquidity to the farm investing market, while eliminating the friction and headaches traditionally associated with owning land - handling all aspects of administration and property management, from insurance and accounting to working with local farmers and improving soil sustainability. For more information on how to become a farm investor or to sell your farm through AcreTrader, please visit https://www.acretrader.com.
For more company information, including executive bios and visual assets, please see our press kit at bit.ly/acrepresskit. If you would like more information, please call Michael Iseman at (479) 335-5670 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.