We are organizing local, producer-controlled partnerships (LLC’s) to finance and manage marketing for organic commodities and branded foods. Partnership commodities, including non-GMO alfalfa and grain as well as antibiotic and hormone-free meat and poultry will be sold primarily through export channels. Farmer-controlled specialty and organic food brands will be developed exclusively for local and regional grocery and food service markets, and for direct sale to consumers.
Qualified local investors and landowners fund the partnerships and serve as directors. These local marketing companies will be founded on Slow Money investment principals.
We are also seeking development partners for specialty food accounting and audit trail software. Our goal is an affordable “field-to-fork” data management system for organized groups of small and medium size farmers, ranchers and gardeners (see below).
Non-local real-estate investment trusts (REIT’s) and similar investor-funded platforms compete directly with sustainable farmers and landowners in local land markets. These companies use non-local risk capital buy up organic farms and ranches and convert conventionally managed land to organic methods. As as group, they are betting that consumer demand for organic and other specialty foods will drive up the value of their land.
Examples of investor-centered farmland speculation include Gladstone Farms and Sustainable Farm Partners. The National Association of Real Estate Trusts is an industry advocacy group that helps drive organic farmland speculation and non-local ownership.
Rather than turn owners into tenants, our producer-centered partnerships will focus on returning a fair share of retail and commodity profits to locally-owned farms and foods businesses. In order to earn a fair share of these profits, our local partnerships will need a clear view of the operational and financial needs of our supply chain partners.
Accounting and Audit Trail Partners
We are seeking software development associates with food processing and database experience. We need a standard system for all of our partnerships. Key outputs will include origins, costs, income and quality for commodities and branded foods sold at retail. We are seeking input on database design and management from the following groups:
• Government agencies, foundations and local elected officials
• Local food, farm and environmental advocacy groups
• Real estate companies with local economic development interests
• Local and regional economic development agencies and lenders
Please see the Brand Partnership page on this website for more information on accounting and audit trails. For information on consumer trends and sustainable agriculture, please read A Consumer-Driven Strategy for Local Food and Farms on this site. For more on land ownership trends, please go to Large Family Farms Continue To Dominate U.S. Agricultural Production.
The ideas offered on this website start with my late father, Bob Steffen. Dad was the farm manager for Father Flanagan at Boys Town for thirty years and a leader in developing commercial-scale organic and Biodynamic farming methods in the Midwest. He introduced me to many holistic thinkers, including E.F. Shumacher, Wendell Berry and Alan Savory.
My own interests are in attracting qualified investors to farmer-controlled food brands tied to pasture-based food systems that are big enough to supply upscale grocery stores in near-by cities. Woody Tasch and his Slow Money Movement and Michael Shuman, the author of Local Dollars, Local Sense, have much to say about financing sustainable food systems.
Our challenge now is to find the economies of scale that lie between “to small to make money” and the realities of the established food system – all without ignoring the real needs of land, labor, capital and management.
Please contact me:
Note: The photo on this page is a courtesy of the Boys Town Hall of History.
Posted 1-30-17, Revised 03-11-18