If you know any farmers, you know that earning a living is very difficult. Much money is spent – on equipment of all sorts, high labor costs and a myriad of other things – and the markets are volatile at best. Farmers who raise livestock – be it cattle, chickens or hogs – know that the demand from consumers for humanely raised animals is growing.
Change, however, costs money, something that’s usually in short supply for the American farmer.
But there’s hope out there and resources that farmers can reach out for to help them transition to a third-party certification of humanely raised farm animals.
There are of course the usual options – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants, bank loans, personal savings, crowdfunding, and even CSA-type investments from customers. And some foundations focus on animal welfare and offer grants.
Here are a few other good options.
- The Chicago nonprofit Fund-a-Farmer program at Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT). It offers grants of up to $2,500 for such things as mobile chicken houses, portable electric livestock fencing, frost-free irrigation systems, and shade protection for pastured animals. To date it has awarded 67 grants totaling $138,000 to 63 farms in 26 states.
- Another interesting option is to acquire livestock guardian dogs. They keep predators away from pastured livestock. Grants have helped farmers safely pasture their animals, leading to certifications such as grass-fed, a much prized consumer product.
There are other options farmers can take advantage of. The point is that as American consumers demand better treatment for farm animals, farmers – many of whom really do care about how their animals are treated – will have to come up with funds to make these important changes.
As you may have read here in the past (and will again in the future I’m sure) new solutions create new problems. But problems do have solutions and, in this case, it’s both about expanding the options farmers have and educating consumers in tandem. Perhaps those giant retailers who are building their sustainability brand and image could offer more and/or larger grants for farmers or their suppliers. That would allow the suppliers to make the necessary changes more quickly and painlessly. A real case of everybody wins.