A Farmer-Led Movement for a Better Food System

Our mission is to build collective power sufficient to realize a just and sustainable food system.

Transfarmation does this by helping farmers transition from industrial animal agriculture operations to raising crops for human consumption. By creating models of alternative economic opportunities, building solidarity with other movements, and shifting societal narratives to change culture, we will realize a just and sustainable food system.

Then I met The Transfarmation Project.

It’s been a long path.

The hardest thing at first was just to get people to realize that change is possible. My family wanted to get out of hog farming, but that was essentially their retirement fund. Thirty years of doing something every day—it’s hard to even imagine the possibility of doing something else. Something drastically different. So it seems to be going against the grain, which seems intimidating.

Then I met The Transfarmation Project, and they’ve been just an amazing, amazing help. They’ve linked me with different experts and consultants, but then, also—just to have people that you could talk to about this project, that are excited, that are: “Yes, let’s do this! This is great!” Just that attitude: “Yes, that’s great. I love what you’re doing. You’re not crazy. Keep going!” Because that can be really helpful, because ...  you’re grinding this out while you’re still working on the farm.

Transfarmation-enrolled farmer, speaking at the Food, Not Feed Summit in Washington, DC

You can see the progress of Transfarmation farmers transitioning to plants on our impact board.

Our Impact

How We Work

Our Transfarmation team provides resources and support to industrial animal farmers interested in transitioning their farms to plant-focused operations. The resources we create and data we collect are accessible to other farmers and organizations to facilitate widespread farm transitions, thereby contributing to societal good.

Our Process

Step 1:

Initial Contact

We meet farmers in all sorts of ways: through conferences and events, site visits to rural areas, social media, and word of mouth. If farmers are interested in joining Transfarmation, we invite them to fill out our farmer interest form.

In this initial contact, we try to assess whether Transfarmation is a good fit for the farmer—can we help meet the farmer’s current needs? Do we have the capacity to enroll another farmer? What is the farmer’s opinion of industrial animal agriculture—does the farmer align ideologically with our work?

Step 2:

Farmer Assessment

If we decide to work together, the
next step is to complete an intake assessment with our team. This helps us gain a better understanding of the farmer and their situation and determine how we can best work together. This is followed by a needs assessment where our team identifies the farmer’s most pressing needs and how to create a path forward to help them build a thriving plant-focused farm operation.

In this step, we also assess the infrastructure and assets available on the existing farm and their potential to be repurposed.

Step 3:

Transition Plan

After completing the farmer assessments, our team gets to work on building a unique transition plan for the farmer. This includes compiling farmer resources and educational materials, providing the farmer with one-on-one training on a new crop, drafting a business plan, assisting the farmer in identifying and securing buyers for their new product, and offering guidance on infrastructure changes. We focus on repurposing existing infrastructure and transforming former industrial animal facilities. Our team also identifies grant opportunities for the farmer, including our research and innovation grants.

*Note: The resources generated during the transition-planning step are also later converted to evergreen resources for other farmers wanting to transition out of industrial animal agriculture. These are  made public on our website and the Farmer Toolkit. In this way, our program benefits the farmers enrolled in our program and other farmers and organizations in the farm-transition movement.

Levels of Farmer Engagement

The Case for Transfarmation

Over the past few decades, consumers have become increasingly aware of the environmental and animal welfare concerns associated with industrial agriculture. But most people are unaware of the exploitation farmers themselves often endure.

Most farmers who raise chickens do so on a contract basis for major meat companies. But many farmers consider themselves indentured servants in these relationships. They take on massive debt, often struggle to pay it off, and have little to no control over their operations. They fall into the “debt treadmill” of chicken farming: an endless loop of paying off loans they take on to make improvements to their chicken houses. 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.” To learn more about contract farming and the broader economic structure of animal agriculture in the United States, please visit Transfarmation’s detailed fact sheet: The Economic State of U.S. Farming.

Craig Watts standing in his mushroom fruiting room

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. Transfarmation 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.

Creating Systemic Change


We know that helping farmers transition from animal agriculture alone won’t transform our food system. That’s why Transfarmation also catalyzes larger-scale shifts through powerful storytelling, policy change, and a broad network of organizations and individuals working to build a more just and sustainable food system.

For policymakers, Transfarmation is an opportunity to shift state and federal funding, programs, and other resources toward helping farmers transition to plant-focused agriculture. The Transfarmation team partners with policymakers who are passionate about improving the lives and livelihoods of farmers and communities in their districts. A primer for policymakers is available here.

The farm bill is a major legislation package that impacts farmers across the country and our nation’s approach to food production and distribution. It also addresses conservation, nutrition, rural development, and other important matters. You can read our farm bill platform here.

Success stories—and the lessons learned—will inspire other farmers to follow suit, so even farmers not formally affiliated with our program will benefit as they pursue their own transitions. Ultimately, we hope Transfarmation will also help new farmers avoid animal agriculture altogether by highlighting other ways to support their families and communities on the land.

Our Team

Meet the team leading Transfarmation

News and Media

Contact:

For media inquiries, please contact 
RONNIKA A. MCFALL, APR
Director of Public Relations, U.S. & Canada
Phone: 404-398-7804
Email: [email protected]

If you are a member of the media, please email [email protected] for the quickest response. If you are not a member of the media, please direct your request to [email protected].

Members of the media can also contact the Mercy For Animals public relations department at 404-398-7804 or 310-776-3769. After hours (weekdays from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m. Eastern time or weekends) your media inquiry will be handled as soon as possible. Thank you.