Jason Weller took the helm of Truterra just before the COVID-19 pandemic uprooted life as we once knew it, but the small-but-mighty team with a start-up mentality is achieving impressive results and creating first-of-its-kind innovations and partnerships, and they’re just getting started.
And, with a leader like Weller, the team is set up for success. His first job out of college was as a ranch hand for a small calf-cow operation in central Montana, where he learned the risks and rewards of making a living from the land. “Ever since, that has been my magnetic North, and from then on, I knew I wanted to be part of the agriculture industry and help families like the one I worked for improve their livelihood, the management of their soils and water and their bottom line,” he said.
From there, Weller began a career in public service working for both state and federal government in the ag conservation arena, including his most recent position just prior to joining Land O’Lakes as Chief of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS). The opportunity to continue providing service for farm families through the Land O’Lakes cooperative system ultimately drew him to the company three years ago.
“To me, mission matters and my passion for sustainability and conservation is who I am and what I think about seven days a week. My job is to wake up and think about how I help to improve the businesses and lives of the American farmer and drive more value for the cooperative system. That’s really energizing and I’m thankful to be a part of the Land O’Lakes team,” he said.
His deep understanding of the public sector and the conservation community is an asset for the team. Truterra works interconnectedly with a broad array of agriculture and conservation partners across the country. By working with ag companies like Syngenta and Cargill, food companies including Tate & Lyle and Campbell’s, non-profit conservation groups such as Pheasants Forever and Ducks Unlimited, and government agencies like NRCS and the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, Truterra is building a coalition of organizations that have best-in-class capabilities –and most importantly, have the ability to work with farmers on the ground.
“We’re increasingly finding that if you want to change results on the ground and accelerate and expand sustainability, you have to work with who farmers trust, and that’s why the Land O’Lakes cooperative model is so powerful,” Weller said. “We want Land O’Lakes to be the go-to place in the ag supply chain and food industry, not just for inspiration, but also for results.”
Advocating for sound public policy is an important component of the work of Land O’Lakes and Truterra. Recently, Jason testified before Congress to help advance proposed legislation establishing stewardship as a viable revenue stream for farmers. The Growing Climate Solutions Act would complement the work that Truterra is doing to create the market conditions to help farmers potentially sell a new class of ag commodities – environmental credits. Greenhouse gas reduction credits, for instance, offer new revenue sources for farmers to diversify their income and offset for their costs for new equipment and practices.
In his testimony, Jason noted: “At its core, the bill recognizes that working with the nation’s farmers and ranchers is one of the quickest, most scalable and most economically feasible solutions to lowering GHGs, and seeks to address some of the inherent challenges in working across nearly 900 million acres of agricultural land and over two million individual farm businesses across the United States.”
This advocacy is a component of the work Truterra is focused on: building a foundation for a more sustainable agriculture system, supporting farmers, ag retailers and consumers at every step in the supply chain. And a system that is farmer-led, farmer driven, and as Jason stated, “The Truterra business is built on the idea that farmer return-on-investment can generate environmental return-on-investment.”