Cortney Ahern Renton

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, Master of Environmental Management, 2019

Cortney is a Master of Environmental Management candidate focusing on food system innovation and regenerative agriculture. At CBEY, she co-leads the Corporate Water Risk Workshop and the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative, and is an advisor to the Climate Change Entrepreneurship and Innovation team.

Cortney spent her last summer working with the Impact Strategy team at Sir Kensington's, a food innovation company, to build the company's social and environmental impact strategy through projects like values-led sourcing, internal sustainability education, B Corp Assessment, and carbon-offset research.

Prior to Yale, Cortney built her career working across the food chain and across sectors. At Feeding America, The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Slow Food, and as an independent researcher and consultant for many nonprofits, think tanks, and start-ups, she tackled complex issues including food insecurity, climate change, food system biodiversity, and international agricultural development.

Cortney is a proud Midwesterner from Minnesota and Chicago. She graduated magna cum laude from Colgate University, where she earned a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Authored Articles
Markets for a range of grains can grow widely and quickly

Businesses big and small can drive growth for regenerative growth across a range of crops. 

Show Me the Money: Making a Downstream Market for Diverse Regenerative Crops

In the words of the great agricultural philosopher Liza Minnelli, “Money makes the world go round.” Most stakeholders RAI interviewed across agricultural supply chains, especially farmers, want to grow crops and raise livestock in a sustainable way. Yet this desire to minimize environmental harm is not feasible if it creates...
Cover Crops for All Day with RAI

Farmers' informal networks can drive progress for finance, food and the farming business. The RAI visited pioneers in Iowa in 2018. 

Farmers on the Frontlines of the Regenerative Agriculture Transition

Achieving the transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture will require a major shift in the strategy and behavior of many of America’s two million farmers. For a farmer, farming for healthy soils, ecosystems, communities and climate conflicts at many points with conventional agriculture practice. Wider success comes only from the...
Regenerative ag's open for business- and investment

This "beyond organic" farm in New York's Hudson Valley earned capital from a REIT that saw its growth potential. 

So, You're Thinking of Investing in Regenerative Food Systems...

The traditional landscape of farmland ownership and financing in the United States thwarts the adoption of regenerative agriculture. First, farmland is expensive. Farm real estate prices have doubled in the last decade. But models have emerged to power regenerative practices forward. These include concessionary capital, financing from real estate investment...
Is this the way to crop reform?

(Photo courtesy of Farmers can deliver steeper returns to themselves, their ecosystem, and their economy when their insurance system makes more sense. 

The Case for Crop Insurance Reform

Across the political spectrum, most Americans have favorable opinions of farmers and are happy with the idea that the federal government provides financial assistance to help pay for crop insurance. If they knew crop insurance's full cost, that might change. This system, while well-intentioned, leaves out the majority of farmers...
Regenerative agriculture begins here

How deeply can regenerative farming affect the way societies value farming- and farmers build value? (Photo courtesy of Lukas via Pexels.) 

The State of Regenerative Agriculture: Growing With Room to Grow More

This article, by The Regenerative Agriculture Initiative (RAI) team at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY), is the first in a series on key opportunities to accelerate regenerative agriculture in the United States. At today’s rate of soil degradation, some scientists predict the world’s topsoil could be...