Empowering Farmers for a Better Food System
A growing number of farmers want to switch from raising animals to growing plants. At the same time, startups are racing to create meat and other products with plants. The Transfarmation Project connects the two to create a better world for us all.
This we know: Addressing many of society’s greatest problems—from hunger and pollution to deforestation and the chronic disease epidemic—requires changing the way our world eats. Our current food system is fragile and unsustainable.
And as it turns out, it’s bad for farmers too.
We believe farmers can and should be part of the change. They know the food and farming system better than anyone, and they are as eager to join in constructing a better food system as are entrepreneurs, activists, and other changemakers.
The Transfarmation Project offers an avenue for farmers to participate in this rebuilding, to become a part of the solution and leave the problem behind.
Our mission is to support farmers in transitioning out of animal agriculture and into growing crops used for plant-based products.
The result: a better future for farmers and their families, for consumers, for animals, and for the planet.
Here’s a sneak peek of work being done by Mike Weaver, a trailblazer in this space, who is converting his chicken farm into a hemp farm:
Do you raise chickens, pigs, or other animals and want to grow plants instead?
Are you a seed investor looking to help farmers transition to growing plants?
Are you an economist, an academic, a policymaker, a food industry expert, or other changemaker who wants to help build a more just and sustainable food system with the Transfarmation Project?
We’d love to hear from you.
“Most chicken farmers work under contract with large poultry companies, and many agree to take on considerable debt to do so.”
“Mega-producers, such as Tyson and Perdue, contract with farmers to raise their birds for them. The farmers take on loans to build warehouses to the precise specifications of the integrators. They raise the birds according to the precise specifications of the integrators. … This efficiency has led to plentiful, cheap meat and eggs. But it has immiserated the farmers. They have little say in how they run their own farms, acting primarily as functionaries.”
“America’s favorite protein is brutalizing millions of birds, and hurting many devoted farmers too. … [Transfarmation] is hoping to provide [farmers] with an escape hatch: a way of taking an ailing chicken business and turning it into a thriving plant-based one.”
THE CASE FOR TRANSFARMATION
Over the past few decades, consumers have become increasingly aware of the environmental and animal welfare concerns associated with industrialized agriculture. But most people are unaware of how inhumanely the farmers themselves are often treated.
Most farmers who raise chickens do so on a contract basis for major meat companies, like Tyson Foods. But many farmers refer to themselves as “indentured servants” in these contract relationships. They take on massive debt, often struggle to pay it off, and have little to no control over their operations. Christopher Leonard, author of The Meat Racket and former Associated Press agriculture reporter, said that farmers “end up taking orders from a big company like Tyson Foods in the same way a serf might be tied to a lord many, many years ago.”
Numerous contract poultry farmers have blown the whistle to expose how the system harms farmers, animals, and consumers. One such pioneer is Craig Watts, who was profiled in the New York Times after he blew the whistle with Leah Garcés, now president of Mercy For Animals.
The plant-based food industry is expected to be worth $85 billion by 2030. To get there, plant-based food producers will need a reliable source of key ingredients, such as peas, mushrooms, oats, and greens. Similarly, the demand for hemp as food, textile fiber, and medicine is growing. The Transfarmation Project partners with farmers to help them transition to plant production and then connects them with businesses in need of their products. It’s a true win-win—for farmers and their families, for consumers, for animals, and for the planet.