A first-of-its-kind online toolkit is now available to farmers interested in transitioning from industrial animal agriculture to plant-focused farming. Vegan brand Miyoko’s Creamery—headed by activist Miyoko Schinner—and animal welfare organizations Mercy For Animals (MFA) and Animal Outlook (AO) have partnered to launch the Farmer Toolkit, a hub for farmers to explore resources and funding opportunities to start their transitions away from animal agriculture.
The Farmer Toolkit aims to help support and empower farmers by providing them with information they need for a successful transition, including how-to guides for growing crops, state-specific resources, guidance for marketing crops, tips for applying for grants and loans, webinars, and more. In offering the toolkit, Miyoko’s Creamery, MFA, and AO believe there is no better time to join the plant-based sector, which is estimated to grow to $13 trillion by 2025.
Credited for this growth is increased demand for alternatives to conventional animal products which means companies in all sectors, from food to household products, are sourcing more plant-forward ingredients to fulfill their social responsibilities.
Transitioning away from animal agriculture
The new toolkit is an extension of already existing programs by Miyoko’s Creamery, MFA, and AO. Mercy For Animals’ Transfarmation project offers funding and certification for farmers who want out of the exploitative animal farming industry and into the booming plant-based sector. It recognizes that farmers are an integral part of creating a food system and has already helped farmers successfully transition their operations to plant farms growing hemp and mushrooms.
“I was looking for alternatives to the contract poultry industry,” former contract poultry farmer Greg Carey 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.”
Similarly, Animal Outlook’s Farm Transitions Programs exists to provide a sustainable and profitable alternative for farmers who feel disempowered in the animal agriculture system—which exploits not only animals but workers, too. “The Farm Transitions Program aims to provide farmers with equitable access within plant-based markets by assisting with comprehensive business planning; agronomic assistance and technical support, legal advocacy, finance and debt relief options; as well as publicity and farm visibility components,” Dr. T.J. Bradford, director of AO’s Farm Transitions Program, said in a statement.
Miyoko’s existing Dairy Farm Transition Program provides opportunities specifically for dairy farmers who want to explore alternatives to their current operations—which often involve fluctuating market prices, high production costs, labor shortages, and competition against large industrial dairy operations.
“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,” 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.”
Building a plant-based food system
As a company that specializes in creating vegan alternatives to dairy products including cheese and butter, Schinner’s commitment to helping dairy farmers is part of her mission of recreating a kinder food system. In a recent social media post, Schinner explained her position in helping further this evolution.
“The fact is simple: we humans must evolve. We must do the hard work to become better versions of ourselves,” Schinner said on Instagram. “I make food, perhaps new forms, but still from what grows from the ground. I want to bring people around the table. To further our cause of bringing more people around the table.”
Schinner differentiates herself from plant-based industry colleagues in that she is not aiming to replicate animal foods. Rather, Schinner aims to create new foods and categories to help people stop looking at animals as a food source. She believes this separation is necessary in order for humans to evolve as compassionate consumers.
“Simply put, we are the natural evolution of cheese making from animal milk to plant milk,” Schinner said. “It is not the ‘technology’ or the ‘product’ that is going to save this planet or mankind, but the spirit with which we create what we create, and how we can envision a future food system that will bridge humanity, save the ecosystem, and truly transform how we view the other creatures with whom we share this planet—either as food and commodities, or otherwise disposable objects whose living quarters (forests, oceans, ecosystems) can be destroyed so we can gain, or as residents of Mother Earth as precious and valuable as we see ourselves.”
For more on the transition from animal agriculture, read:
Cory Booker Becomes First Vegan on the Senate Agriculture Committee
This Organization Helps Workers Transition Away From Animal Agriculture
Proposed Legislation Aims to Help At-Risk Farmers Switch to Plant Agriculture