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Source: Manulife Investment Management news release

Boston, MA - Hancock Natural Resource Group (HNRG), a Manulife Investment Management company, has announced that it completed an initial sustainability examination for select managed agricultural operations in the United States. The examination found the operations fully conform to a new sustainable agricultural standard (the Standard) for farmland management which is expected to launch more broadly in 2020.

The Standard was developed by the Sustainable Agriculture Working Group* - a coalition of two environmental nonprofit organizations and eight companies, including HNRG, that professionally own and manage over three million farmland acres globally.

"Until recently, the agriculture sector lacked a standard that could work across different scales, crop types, production systems, and geographies. We're optimistic that this new standard will help bring transparency to the market and drive widespread adoption for the industry," said Brian Kernohan, Chief Sustainability Officer, HNRG. "We believe this is an important area of focus, especially for investors that want to align their portfolios with environmental, social and governance goals."

"Sustainability is core to our values as an active investment manager," added William Peressini, President and CEO, HNRG. "Confirming that we meet this new standard was the next logical step in our ongoing commitment to ESG integration for our clients and the communities in which we operate."

*The SAWG consists of eight professional owner and management entities, representing approximately 1.5 million farmland acres across 22 U.S. states as well as an additional two million acres in seven non-U.S. countries. Two leading environmental nonprofits, The Conservation Fund and Manomet, support the Working Group.

HNRG commissioned KˇCoe Isom, a leading consulting and CPA firm in the food and agriculture industry, to perform this first-of-its-kind independent examination of sustainability performance on managed agricultural operations and determine conformance to the principles, objectives, performance measures and indicators contained within the Standard.

KˇCoe Isom examined properties in California, Washington and Wisconsin primarily producing almond, pistachio, apple and cranberry varieties. KˇCoe Isom's examination found zero non-conformances, three opportunities for improvement, and 13 notable practices and expressed an opinion that Hancock Natural Resources Group's agricultural operations in the United States fully conform to the Standard.

The results of the examination are available here. Individual company conformance to the standard will be verified through independent third-party examinations.

"HNRG has been at the cutting edge of sustainability for more than two decades," said Larry Selzer, CEO of The Conservation Fund. "First they were an early leader in the certification of sustainable forestry and now in the emergence of a sustainability standard for agriculture. Along with the other pioneering members of the Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, they have created something that will fundamentally and profoundly improve the transparency of sustainability for consumers, investors and farmers."

Boyd Corkins, Chief Operating Officer, Hancock Farmland Services added, "We have always believed that 'good stewardship is good business' and the inaugural examination confirms that, from an operational perspective, we are safeguarding our most valuable assets, our people and the environment."

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