The Evolution of Farming 

Interview with Rahoul Mehra, Founder, AgFamiliar, posted: May 27, 2020

CBSACNY: How are Family Farms an evolution in Farming?

Rahoul Mehra: Who will grow the locally sourced, sustainable, clean, microbiome rich crops of the future? Family farms. Together we are the alternative to the international industrial giants that are engulfing and consolidating our food supply. We have recently blown a hole in our economy to save lives. It's essential that our response to this national sacrifice ensures a renewed future for all our communities. My co-founder John “John Boy” Ubaldo has built and supported an organic, non-GMO zone of family run farms. Farming in the zone is based on practices he has implemented and taught others over the past 12 years and has resulted in products that are free of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. AgFamiliar is the culmination of that effort; a co-op of family farms working together across 1000s of acres providing a source of good, clean agricultural products, locally produced by families while supporting rural communities.

CBSACNY: Where Are Your Farms Located?

Rahoul Mehra:
We are located in and around Cambridge, NY – competition is almost non-existent so acquisition of land and partners for the co-op is unimpeded. It’s a very isolated area; 40 minutes to RT. 87 with no rail line. At our inception our co-op is comprised of 10 farms and 1000 acres and every farm is within 19 miles of each other. We propose to expand this to 50 farms and 5000 acres by 2022, and currently have 30 farms wait listed for 2021.

Also, Washington County, where our farmers reside, is one of the poorest in the state, is an opiod center, has a large mix of multigenerational farms and is considered to be the center for illicit marijuana grow in the state. We see our platform as a means for social impact beyond the products we produce. Since social justice is an extremely important driver in the NYS hemp and cannabis inititiative, our location and our model has provided tremendous good will with the NYS government and provides a valuable postive social impact that our clients and partners desire to have associated with their purchases and brands.

CBSACNY: How competitive is your co-operative model?

Rahoul Mehra:
We are experienced producers contributing land, labor and equipment across thousands of dedicated acres locally situated to maximize efficient operations and logistics. It is because of this that our cost drivers remain modest while our ability to meet our clients varied needs is exceptional. And because of our diversified farming strategy we are well equipped to navigate a changing market landscape.

Our already established co-operative ecosystem, supported by partner driven specialty crop production and sales, also allows us to de-risk participation in the hemp (and future cannabis) opportunity while immediately dedicating large parcels of land to producing and processing 100s of acres of clean hemp derived extracts from inception.

Because we are an established co-op with hemp production, we are positioned with NYS to become a licensed co-op for “adult use” marijuana when it legalizes (expected 2021). A co-op licencse, unlike other licenses allows for vertical integration of various aspects of the hemp and marijuana business. This license also provides us access to a projected $10 million of grow per co-op farm member. In 2021, with just 10 farms under membership, we will have a licensed opportunity to grow $100 million of product for the recreational marijuana market in NY.

CBSACNY: What happens after the harvest?

Rahoul Mehra: Our leadership team has decades of extensive experience in areas spanning sustainable farming, specialty crop and hemp cultivation, health care, medicine and impact driven businesses.

We already have commitments for our grain, feed and hemp extracts in place. And, as the country’s food supply chain has exposed its inherent weakness and reliance on suspect sources, including cheap international growers, we are developing a white glove, direct to your door, local, clean food retail operation. We’ve tested this capability for years via our location in Bedford, NY and are ready to deploy the next phase of this operation. Now, our clients have a transparent local food source that delivers on the promise of a revolution in clean food.

Finally, facilitated by my wife Glennis Mehra (CGSAS ’06 PhD Neurobiology and Behavior) and our friend Alex Chesler (CGSAS ’05 PhD Biological Sciences) we are building our scientific capability and platform to study the various compounds in the cannabis plant to discover function, derive specific synergists and zero in on targeted health benefits. Coupled with the real world experiences and use cases that my business partner, Dr. Lynn Parodneck, has generated (i.e. tumor and pain reduction in cancer patients utilizing cannabis extracts) we are well positioned to provide the products and services necessary to fulfill our own and our clients brand and market ambitions in therapuetic wellness around the burgeoning hemp and cannabis extract space.

Abbreviated bios and contact info:

Rahoul Mehra
25 years experience at startups and Fortune 500 companies
MBA, CBS '04
Univ. of  Wisconsin '94

Lynn Parodneck, M.D.
Leading marijuana clinician and compassionate care advocate
More than 500 active patients with extensive referring specialists 
Sarah Lawrence '79
New York Medical College '84

John Ubaldo
25 years experience farming (sustainable, zero input practices)
Skidmore '88