FoA 374: The Potential for Perennial Grains with Peter Miller and Brandon Schlautman of Sustain-A-Grain

Soy Checkoff: https://www.unitedsoybean.org/

Sustain-A-Grain: https://www.sustainagrain.com/

The Land Institute: https://landinstitute.org/

Today’s episode features Peter Miller and Brandon Schlautman, Ph.D. of Sustain-A-Grain. Sustain-A-Grain has a two-part mission: to introduce consumers to Kernza® perennial grain and to support family farms in growing Kernza®. The team has been growing Kernza® themselves for nearly 5 years in close collaboration with The Land Institute—where Kernza® was first developed. They are certified seed dealers, handlers, and growers, and they work with dozens of farmers across the Great Plains to grow and market their grain. They also work with food companies, restaurants, breweries, and distilleries to source high-quality Kernza®. 

This is an interesting episode about the potential for perennial grains, and what it takes to commercialize a brand new crop. The problems are different that what you would expect. For example, Kernza® has received a ton of press and excitement from some pretty big end users, which sounds like a great thing, and ultimately it is. But Peter and Brandon have to find ways to build the supply chain in a way that buyers remain happy, farmers remain profitable, and supply and demand can grow together at a sustainable pace. No easy task. We’ll talk about the research and breeding efforts that continue to go into the crop and what this means for farmers, food companies, and the future of agriculture. 

Peter Miller, CEO & Co-founder, has global agribusiness experience and previously worked in three early-stage startups, including helping to launch FarmLead’s online grain marketplace. Peter has over 10 years of operations and private equity experience in the ag industry. He holds an MBA from University of Illinois.

Dr. Brandon Schlautman, Chief Science Officer & Co-founder, is a crop scientist who previously led cranberry breeding and domestication efforts at University of Wisconsin and perennialization of edible legumes at The Land Institute. Brandon serves as the Research Director for a $10M National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant for perennial cover crops and holds a Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin.

We begin the conversation with Brandon talking about where this all started, the place where Kernza® has been developed over the past 20 years: at The Land Institute. 

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Tim Hammerich

I share stories about agriculture, agtech, and agribusiness on podcasts and radio.