What You Can Do to Support Responsible, Respectful, and Regenerative Agriculture
Consumer pressure is a significant force. Most of the animal agriculture changes we’ve seen, such as banning gestation crates and battery cages or phasing out antibiotics in meat, are taking place because companies take consumer outrage and demands seriously.
Consumers can play a major role in changing how meat, dairy and eggs are produced in the US. When we purchase meats produced from animals raised in CAFOs, we perpetuate the system.
The following suggestions can help shift agriculture away from industrial practices and back to responsible, respectful and regenerative food production. There is power in collective action. If each and every one of us does our part, we can create a tipping point that will be hard for agribusiness – and our legislators – to ignore.
Here are several suggested actions that we can all take:
1. Let your consumer dollars do the talking, and avoid purchasing CAFO meats. If you are purchasing meat at a supermarket, you are likely purchasing meat from animals raised in a CAFO. It’s going to take consumer pressure to change how meat is produced in the United States. That boils down to each and every one of us making an effort to redirect spending dollars away from CAFO meats. Easy? No. Necessary? Yes.
2. Buy your meat, eggs, and dairy products directly from traditional, independent farmers who raise their livestock on pasture or in deep-bedded hoop barns and who do not use low-dose antibiotics for growth promotion or disease prevention. A benefit of buying directly from farmers is that you can ask questions and see how animals are raised. Avoiding the middleman and making direct purchases saves you money and provides farmers with an optimal source of revenue.
3. Find local sources of meat, egg and dairy products through food hubs, co-ops, buyers clubs, and Buy Fresh By Local programs. Depending on the situation, you may connect directly with traditional, independent farmers or get food products at a small mark-up.
Natural food stores can also provide products especially in urban environments. Your purchases drive the demand for pasture-raised products and support opportunities for new and existing farmers to meet that demand.
Download a copy of Sources of Sustainably Raised Meat, Dairy and Egg Products in Southeast Iowa.
Here are some sources of Buy Fresh Buy Local organization in Iowa:
Southeast Iowa Food Hub’s Local Food Guide
Northeast Iowa: Northeast Iowa Buy Fresh Buy Local
Northeast Iowa: River Bend Buy Fresh Buy Local
North Iowa: Healthy Harvest of North Iowa
Central Iowa: Drake University Buy Fresh Buy Local
North Central Iowa: University of Northern Iowa Buy Fresh Buy Local
East Central Iowa: Field to Family
Throughout Iowa and the US: Local Harvest
Throughout Iowa and the US: Eat Wild
4. Shop at Farmers Markets where traditional, independent farmers sell directly to customers. The USDA has a Farmers Market Directory Search where you can locate a market in your area.
5. Ask your local supermarket to carry locally produced, pastured meat products. Niman Farms, Applegate, and Berkshire Heritage Pork are some lines that produce humanely raised, antibiotic-free meats.
6. When eating in a restaurant, ask if the meats are from traditional, independent farmers. Consider ordering other options if the meats only come from CAFOs. You’ll raise awareness by letting restaurant owners know you will only purchase dishes that use meat raised on pasture. Search out restaurants that do provide local, pasture-raised meats. Find some options at the following websites, but also search online for your area as these guides are somewhat limited:
Other Actions You Can Take
In addition to consumer action, exerting sustained legislative pressure can eventually influence changes in farming policies that support sustainable practices. Here are suggestions of other actions you can take in support of responsible, respectful, and regenerative agriculture.
7. Advocate for legislation that provides incentives and support for independent, traditional farmers and local and regional food systems. Learn about the policies that support industrial agriculture and what you can do to strengthen traditional independent family farming opportunities. The following organizations are all working to reclaim sustainable, responsible farming practices supportive of independent, small-scale farming.
Grace Communications Foundation
Humane Society Legislative Fund
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement
Organic National Family Farm Coalition
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
National Young Farmers Coalition
8. Find out where your elected representatives stand on farming policies. Call, lobby, and advocate for policies that support traditional, independent farmers and that curtail the influence of agribusiness. If your elected officials turn a deaf ear, vote them out and find more suitable candidates to support. Or consider a run yourself.
9. Learn as much as you can about the impacts of CAFOs. The JFAN website is a good place to start. Follow JFAN on Facebook where we regularly post relevant articles.
10. Share what you learn with friends and family. The more people know, the more pressure can be put on companies to make crucial changes to reestablish responsible, respectful and regenerative agricultural practices. Talk to others, email articles, or post information on Facebook and other social media channels. Share JFAN’s ad on the 3 R’s of Agriculture far and wide.
10. Support JFAN in ways large and small so we can continue to provide community education, informational guidance, and support to the Jefferson County community.
JFAN is a grassroots 501(c)(3) educational foundation, and your donations are tax-deductible.