NORTHGLENN, Colo. — Niman Ranch, a leader in sustainable agriculture and humane livestock practices, announced earlier this year it had raised nearly $100,000 to help the National Young Farmers Coalition.
The partnership included both a product specific goal for the sale of ham and sausage that secured $60,000 and a social media awareness campaign that generated $39,129.
The effort helped to introduce Niman Ranch to new young farmers while supporting the coalition’s advocacy work. For every farm photo shared through social media, Niman Ranch contributed $1 to the coalition. In the first month of the campaign the effort went viral on Twitter and Facebook with over 800,000 viewings after 21,476 shares and retweets and 17,653 likes.
“Niman Ranch has a special focus on family farming, young farmers and preserving America’s farmland and is looking to reach out to younger farmers who are interested in raising pigs, cattle or lamb for Niman Ranch,” said Paul Willis, founding Niman Ranch hog farmer. “The partnership with the well-respected National Young Farmers Coalition supports youth and sustainable farming and will help Niman Ranch continue our mission and provide mentors for new young farmers.”
The coalition is a grass-roots network of young farmers, ranchers, and consumers fighting for the future of farming. A survey released by the coalition showed a resurgence of young people choosing agricultural careers. The majority of these young farmers are not coming from farm families, they are growing vegetables and livestock on diversified farms, and they face many challenges in getting started.
Supporting these young farmers is considered important as the average age of farmers in the United States reaches 58. Niman Ranch farmers, on the other hand, average 47 years old, more than 11 years younger than the national average.
“Millennials are motivated to farm in a way they feel good about. Our latest survey found that young farmers are committed to sustainable and conservation-minded farming practices,” said Lindsey Lusher Shute, executive director of the coalition. “Niman Ranch’s model with important environmental and humane standards provides a structure and market for someone who wants to do the right thing for the animals and land. We’re finding that once a young farmer gets started they want to find a network like Niman Ranch where it is possible to grow gradually and move into wholesale.”
Niman Ranch began the partnership to expand beyond their family farmer network of more than 729 farmers, many from generational family farms, to include the growing segment of new young farmers across the country. In conjunction with the coalition’s effort, the ranch created a young farmer advisory committee and announced a new multi-tiered initiative focused on ensuring a fair wage with steady, predictable and meaningful farm income; extended contracts for financial stability and confidence to ensure better lending terms for young farmers; co-signing loans to allow new and young farmers to afford to grow and invest in the farms; educational programs and “how to” videos to aid farmers on best practices; scholarships for students attending college; financial incentives for a quality production; and, a mentor program led by experienced farmers to help pass on knowledge to the next generation and be available to help with questions and on-farm issues.
“We are dedicated to meet the rising consumer demand for cleaner and more sustainable meat by increasing the number of young farmers we work with,” said Jeff Tripician, the ranch’s general manager. “We’re working hard to help increase the number of young farmers that can return to the land and thrive. We’re proud to help young farmers achieve a bright future in sustainable farming.”
With more than 40 years as an industry leader, Niman Ranch is a community of more than 720 independent family farmers and ranchers who raise livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably to deliver the finest-tasting meat. All Niman Ranch pork, beef, lamb and prepared products are certified under the Certified Humane program and available nationwide at both food service and retail locations.
The coalition is a national advocacy network of young farmers fighting for the future of agriculture. Visit NYFC on the web at www.youngfarmers.org, and on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.