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Exclusive: Blue Ocean Barns nets $20M to cut cow burps

Illustration of a spot on a cow shaped like a dollar sign.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The ag tech startup Blue Ocean Barns has raised a $20 million Series A financing round, Axios has learned, as it looks to expand its seaweed-based food additive that reduces methane emissions from cattle.

Why it matters: The fundraising helps the company, which in turn helps the climate. Cows generate about 4% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and roughly 9% of global emissions.

  • Blue Ocean Barns says its additive slashes cows' methane emissions by 80%, enabling meat and dairy companies to cut Scope 3 emissions.

The details: Valor Siren Ventures, the venture arm of Valor Equity Partners, led the round. Tao Capital Partners also participated.

Zoom in: Blue Ocean Barns last year raised a $5 million seed round led by Valor, with a post-valuation of about $40 million, per PitchBook data.

  • It counts Ben & Jerry’s, Clover Sonoma and Straus Family Creamery as partners.

How it works: The seaweed additive, called Brominata, "stops the formation of methane in the cow’s rumen, nearly eliminating the emission of the potent greenhouse gas through burps," Blue Ocean Barns says.

  • Fun party fact: The methane from one cow's burps are equivalent to the greenhouse gases emitted by a passenger car.

How they make money: "Companies pay Blue Ocean Barns to deliver the seaweed to their farmers; in return, companies earn verified carbon certificates that substantiate the reductions," Blue Ocean Barns says.

What they're saying: "Feeding a sprinkling of Brominata daily to only the dairy cows in the state of California...will have the same annual climate impact as Tesla’s global fleet last year," the company says.

Zoom out: Other ag techs are also looking at the business of cutting cattle emissions. They include:

  • Alga Biosciences, a Y Combinator startup that's raised about $500,000 to date, per PitchBook; Volta Greentech, a Swedish startup that's reportedly raised about $3 million to date; and Mootral, a British-Swiss startup that's apparently raised close to $29 million at a $30 million valuation.

What's next: Blue Ocean Barns, based in Hawaii, plans to expand its farming and processing operations.

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