National Young Farmers Coalition grows its network while helping Niman Ranch farmers succeed
Northglenn, Colo. (April 18, 2019) – This Earth Day, two leaders in the sustainable agriculture movement, Niman Ranch and the National Young Farmers Coalition, will come together to double down on their efforts to bolster their respective young farmer networks. Niman Ranch will be offering free National Young Farmers Coalition membership to its more than 740 family farmers to provide education, mentorship and support to the next generation of sustainable farmers. This announcement comes on the heels of new data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which showed that while the number of young farmers increased by 2% between 2012 and 2017, the number of farmers over 65 increased by 11%. Niman Ranch farmers average 47 years of age.
As you have likely seen in the news, historic flooding throughout the Midwest has tragically caused multiple deaths, billions of dollars of damage, and washed away homes, businesses and roads. Farmers and ranchers are being hit hard with flooded farm buildings and equipment, submerged fields and stranded livestock. I saw the aftermath myself while traveling in Nebraska two weeks ago and agree with Governor Pete Ricketts’ description of “unbelievable devastation.” Unfortunately, local residents are bracing for more flooding as spring rain continues and snow pack melts with warming days.
Many of Niman Ranch’s farmers are in this path of destruction. It’s been a tough winter already with record breaking cold snaps and so much snow that many farmers ran out of space to put it. While most of our farmers have gotten through the recent bouts of flooding relatively unscathed, we can’t say that is the case for all. Here is just one story featured in the Washington Post from a Niman Ranch farmer, Kyle Tubbs, whose farm was directly hit by the floods.
Kyle Tubbs in Craig, Mo., about 90 miles north of Kansas City, hauled all 400 of his hogs to higher elevations on Saturday afternoon, losing only one animal in the transition. The only building on his farm not underwater is his house, which he raised nine feet after the floods of 2010 and 2011. Tubbs is four days into this flood, the third in 10 years, and he said it’s far from over.
“There’s such a volume of water up in the Dakotas, we’ll be battling this all summer. Our rivers are managed so terribly.”
He’s reduced to using his boat for transport. When he looks out to the south, all he can see is water.
“I’m on the only oceanfront property in Missouri.”
While we usually focus on sunnier days on the farm, I thought it was important to share this story with our friends, partners and customers so folks can better understand the situation many farmers are currently facing. Farming is a challenging line of work with significant risk.
It’s an unfortunate fact that far too many in our country take the food on their dinner table for granted. In light of the news, we’ere especially thankful for our food and the people who produce it. We value their work today and everyday.
A farmer’s life will never be easy. But we remain hopeful. Farming communities are resilient, rallying to support each other and their neighbors to help everyone get back on their feet and on their land. We are staying in close communication with our farmers and keeping an eye on the weather. We will help impacted communities in any way we can – starting with donations of Niman Ranch products to families in need.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and thank you for supporting the Niman Ranch family of small, independent farmers and ranchers.
Once a Reluctant Farmer, Gina Gadient Reflects on the Joys of Life on the Farm
Hello, my name is Gina and I live in Eastern Iowa, on a farm I like to refer to as ‘God’s Country’. My husband, Randy, and I farm approximately 400 acres with the help of our children. Not only am I proud to be a farmer’s wife, I am proud to be a farmer! We have a farrow-to-finish operation with approximately 150 sows. That means we raise the pigs from birth to market. The market-ready pigs are sold to Niman Ranch. We also have 65 stock cows.
Guest post by Abby Larsen who farms with her husband Kyle for Niman Ranch in Iowa
My husband, Kyle Larsen, has been putting more gravel in his travel this winter. He is logging more miles not only because our farrow-to-finish hog farm has expanded to more sites, but also because he has eagerly attended as many Niman Ranch regional meetings as possible to tell other farmers about our “Pay It Forward” program. The new “Pay It Forward” program awards grants funded by Niman Ranch farmers for Niman Ranch farmers to support farm and breeding stock expansions and overall operation improvements.
April Wilson and her family have been raising hogs for Niman Ranch for more than 20 years on their diversified farm in Iowa. Established in 1959 by her grandfather, Ernest Wilson, Seven W Farm is a model for regenerative, earth-friendly farming practices. April works alongside her mother and father, Lorna and Dan, two brothers and their wives, together growing corn, soybeans, small grains and hay and raising chickens, sheep, cattle and an organic dairy herd.
Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation Scholarship recipient, Abigail Hansen, is a proud farm kid. She grew up helping raise cattle and hogs and cultivating the land for alfalfa, corn and soybeans, alongside her parents, Niman Ranch farmers. Abigail credits her farm upbringing with teaching her the values of hard work and responsibility, which are proving useful as she pursues a degree in agronomy and environmental science.
Abigail is a recipient of the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation Scholarship to support her studies. The Foundation was started in 2006 with just one scholarship and over the past 11 years, thanks to our generous donors, has dispersed almost $500,000 to the children of Niman Ranch farmers and ranchers who are committed to furthering their education to support sustainable agriculture and rural communities.
Learn more about Abigail’s roots and aspirations in the five questions below:
We were so excited to get the chance to sit down with executive chef and owner, Jeff Smedstad of Elote Café in Sedona, Arizona. We asked Chef Jeff everything from what inspired him to become a chef to what his last meal on earth would be…Trust us, we were not expecting it.
Meet Niman Ranch family farmers, Brad and Kirsten Eckerman of Quit Yer Belly Achin’ Acres, a family-owned and operated farm located in Southern, Wisconsin. These two hard-working farmers raise hogs humanely and sustainably for Niman Ranch. Without these two and the help of their two kids, Brad’s dad and grandfather, Niman Ranch wouldn’t be the same.
We love sharing Q&A’s with Niman Ranch family farmers, and lucky for us, Brad and Kirsten took some time to come inside from their daily chores and a full-time job to answer a few questions about sustainable farming and what it’s like to be a Niman Ranch family farmer. read more
Last month, I traveled to Panera Bread’s annual corporate and franchisee conference in Orlando, FL. At this conference, Ashley DiBlasi, Niman Ranch’s Senior Marketing Director, and I spoke with Panera Bread employees about what makes Niman Ranch so special and provided a face to our brand.read more