We’re excited to introduce you to our sponsors for the 2016 Change Food Fest through a series of Q&A’s. Our first sponsor in this series is Niman Ranch.
Niman Ranch is a network of over 700 independent family farmers who raise their livestock humanely and sustainably to bring you the finest tasting meats in the world. We offer a complete line of fresh beef, pork, lamb and a variety of smoked and uncured products.
CF: How is Niman Ranch changing the food system?
Niman Ranch is the largest network of independent family livestock farmers and ranchers in the country – over 750 and growing. All our farmers raise their livestock humanely and sustainably following our strict animal welfare protocols. This translates to a food system that supports keeping small, family farmers and ranchers on the land who are raising their animals responsibly rather than transitioning to industrial methods.
CF: Last year you were bought by Purdue. Has this move impacted your operations?
Being purchased by Purdue has only improved our operations, as we’ve been able to take on more family farmers and ranchers than ever while remaining true to our commitment to humane and sustainable livestock raising practices.
CF: In what ways do you support your network of farmers?
We help keep small farms in business by providing a robust and growing national marketplace for our farmers and ranchers to sell their livestock. Rural areas do not provide a large enough marketplace for most farmers to make a living. Our program helps them bridge that gap so they can raise livestock the way they believe in while earning enough to support their family and local community.
Our farmers and ranchers are paid a premium to raise animals to our strict protocols, and we’ve set a floor price to ensure they never lose money. This is part of our investment in a long-standing, committed partnership with each farm. We personally know each and every family, with our Field Agents visiting each farm and ranch regularly to make sure their treatment of the animals and land meet our standards. We also have the Next Generation Scholarship Fund to help keep children of our farmers on the land by supporting them through college.
CF: As demand for ethically raised food increases, what do you see as a solution for meeting supply?
We believe that quality and integrity in livestock production is more important than quantity. As demand increases, our support for farmers who raise livestock ethically will increase as well. In order to keep a reasonable supply for growth in demand, we will continue to work with chefs and grocers who share in our values. Balancing the carcass should be a priority, focusing on secondary cuts and using all parts of the animal while keeping the portion size balanced on the plate.
CF: How do pasture-raised animals play a role in sustainable food supply?
When livestock are able to express their natural habits, it’s beneficial for the land, animal and the farmer. It’s important for animals to live a peaceful life without the stress of confinement. This not only improves their quality of life, but the quality of meat as well. In turn, farmers are able to naturally fertilize and aerate their land, which allows for the successful rotation of crops with minimal inputs.
CF: What’s one thing anyone can do to help the good food movement?
Support businesses that support family farmers who raise their products responsibly, whether it be vegetables, grains or livestock. How you choose to spend your food dollar matters.
CF: What does the future of food look like?
In the future, the number of small, independent family farmers working the land continue to increase. More people than ever will value humanely-raised livestock, not just livestock raised without antibiotics and hormones. We will also see more opportunities for young farmers to succeed, leading to a drop in the average age of farmers in America.
CF: Where can we find more information about Niman Ranch?
You can visit nimanranch.com to find recipes, learn more about our humane animal handling protocols and meet our family farmers.
Stay tuned for spotlights on our other sponsors, coming soon!
The Change Food Fest “Growing the Good Food Movement” will take place in New York City on November 12 and 13, 2016. We will explore and celebrate change happening in the food system. Rather than simply talk about problems, we will actively look at solutions that are leading us to the sustainable food system we wish to see. Our focus will be on both real and visionary change and will include an exploration into seafood, plant based vs meat diets, possible impacts of new businesses and investment money coming into the food space – and much more. Join us! You can purchase a ticket or host a viewing party of the live webcast in your local community.