Farmers are under pressure to shift from raising animals to growing plant-based crops, and meat and dairy farmers across the country are seeing their livelihood threatened. To quell this growing stress, Miyoko’s Creamery has teamed up with Mercy for Animals (MFA) and Animal Outlook (AO) to launch the first toolkit specifically designed to help farmers transition away from industrial animal agriculture and instead grow crops. The Farmer Toolkit will provide farmers with foundational tools to adopt plant-focused farming, protecting their jobs and farms as they leave the animal farming industry.

Headed by vegan activist Miyoko’s Schinner, Miyoko’s Creamery's involvement stems from its existing Dairy Farm Transition Program. The brand – a favorite of celebrities like Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi – launched its plant-based transition program to provide opportunities to farmers who have considered dropping their dependence on animal agriculture. Now, Schinner’s mission becomes broader with the help of these two animal activist organizations.

The Farmer Toolkit intends to provide support and information to farmers that fear they will be forgotten by plant-based initiatives. The toolkit will feature how-to guides for crop growing, guidance for marketing crops, instructions for grant and loan applications, webinars, state-specific resources, and more. Plant-based ingredients – whether fresh produce or plant-protein sources – continue to grow at unprecedented rates, expected to reach $13 trillion by 2025.

“By helping a forward-thinking dairy farmer transition to grow regenerative specialty crops, we can uplift farmer livelihoods in the emerging plant-based food economy,” Schinner said in a statement. “Dairy Farm Transition offers holistic resources to the farmer such as technical assistance, educational resources, small grants for material needs, and finally, and most importantly, a guaranteed income during the transition. We will also be purchasing the crops from the farmer to use in our cheeses and butter.”

Existing Efforts for a Transition to Plant-Based

Miyoko’s Dairy Farm Transition Program is accompanied by existing campaigns from both Animal Outlook and Mercy for Animals. Animal Outlook debuted its Farm Transitions Programs to help encourage local farmers to adopt sustainable and profitable alternatives to animal agriculture. The program emphasizes that the big animal agriculture giants exploit animals as well as their workers, meaning a shift to plant-based farming could empower these disenfranchised farmers.

Mercy for Animals launched The Transfarmation Project in 2019, providing funding and certification pathways for farmers committed to leaving the animal agriculture industry. The program is intended to bring attention that in order to successfully transition to a plant-based food system, people cannot forget about the farmers involved in the animal farming system.

“I was looking for alternatives to the contract poultry industry,” Greg Carey – a former contract poultry farmer – said in a statement. “I wanted something that was entirely mine, where I didn’t have to worry about a huge corporation cutting me off and losing my income. That’s what I found in Transfarmation. I talk with the staff and their technical consultants regularly and together we’re creating a business that I fully control.”

Plant-Based Demand is Growing

With growing concerns regarding the climate crisis and public health, the meat and dairy industries have fallen increasingly under fire. Major meat companies including Cargill have conceded that the plant-based industry is slated to eclipse the animal agriculture industry. Last year, Cargill CEO David MacLennan revealed that before the end of the decade he expects plant-based to be 10 percent of the market, claiming that “there is some cannibalization that will occur.”

“The small family dairy farmer is getting squeezed out between competing with Big Ag and the declining consumption of milk over the years,” Founder and CEO of Miyoko’s Creamery Miyoko Schinner said. “As a growing food company, we have a responsibility to directly support and engage farmers, especially when they are struggling. By helping a forward-thinking dairy farmer transition to growing regenerative specialty crops, we can uplift farmer livelihoods in the emerging plant-based food economy.”

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