Beginning with specialty and organic beef, raised Free will manage R&D and organize financing for owner-operated and leased organic farms, ranches, and gardens. Initially, these operations will supply commodity buyers and local producer-owned direct sales programs.
Once processing and enough cattle are available, producer-owned retail brands will be developed for nearby urban grocery and food service markets (ISU, 2003). Markets are explained on page 3 of this website. Our service area includes Omaha, Des Moines, Kansas City and surrounding communities .
Farm and Ranch Succession
Without land succession within families and communities, it is impossible to build the skill sets, institutional memory and financial resources required to transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture. We plan to lease or purchase smaller farms and ranches from retiring rural producers and then organize the contiguous and nearby parcels into efficient regenerative operations.
These “new” farms and ranches will be leased and then sold back to young producers from the same families and communities.
As explained below, producers and landowners will be asked to negotiate legally binding succession plans within their families and communities.
Once our beef program has been established, this same process will guide development of commercial gardens in around Omaha, Des Moines and Kansas City. Smaller free-range pork and poultry farms will be located in isolated areas near these cities.
For those unfamiliar with regenerative agriculture, we are starting with beef because cattle are ruminants (grass eaters) and central to rebuilding soil, water and wildlife resources in our region. Regenerative agriculture is explained on page 4.
Organization and Funding
We will begin with local demonstration projects that supply specialty beef to area feeders, packers and local direct-to-consumer brands. The first step is to organize local steering committees.
Once a local steering committee is in place, we will prepare grant applications for feasibility and planning studies. These local projects will offer measurable public benefits including documented farm profits and specific environmental improvements. Performance data will be gathered from producers, feeders and packers. The results will be included in reports to investors and stakeholder, and in public education programs. Grants will pay contractors for market research, planning and development services.
Raised Free will not own or control land, livestock, equipment, processing facilities or food brands.
Local steering committees will oversee, evaluate and approve all R&D and finance work in their home communities.
It is well known that low and medium-income producers do not have the financial resources to “bootstrap” cost-effecitve regenerative farms and ranches. Once local steering committees are in place, our lead producers will purchase planning options from interested owner-operators and landowners.
All real estate developers use purchase opetions to organize land and money for residential, commercial and industrial projects. We intend to use this same process to organize efficient, commercial-scale regenerative farms and ranches.
Using grants from government agencies and foundations, our lead producers will purchase planning options from interested landowners. These options will include negotiated lease/purchase agreements that are contingent on financing.
Raised Free will pay local attorneys to prepare the necessary legal documents. Market research and business plans will be completed before leases and sales are finalized. Please see Page 3 of this website for more on market research.
Rural Economic Development
State and local economic development agencies, the food industry and foundations are invited to fund planning options, market research, business plans and investor education programs.
Our first grant application was for a 2021 Value-Added Producer Grant. If funded, this project will document common investment barriers faced by regenerative producers, and most important, identify practical solutions to these barriers.
Outreach and Education
Investment barriers in sustainable agriculture can be overcome by planned education programs designed for three key audiences. Local steering committees will host these meetings.
The first important audience includes economic development agencies and food companies. Our research and planning partners will explain the links between farm profits and sustainable rural development. Both depend on attracting qualified investors to commercial-scale regenerative food systems. Successful systems will include producer-controlled production networks, locally-owned processing and producer-owned retail food brands.
Our partners will introduce standard farm and ranch accounting procedures and audit trails that underpin business plans and periodic financial reports for each farm and local cooperative.
The general public is the second important audience. These programs will introduce pasture-based organic farming methods and explain the need for local production and marketing cooperatives. Qualified investors who attend the public events will be invited to private meetings with our research, planning and investment partners.
Qualified investors are the third audience. These meetings will be limited to private discussions with qualified investors and registered advisors. They will clarify our requirements for landowners, producers and investors.
Requirements for Landowners and Producers
With support from local attorneys and Raised Free contractors, producers will be asked to:
- Consider incorporation
- Negotiate written purchase options for leased land
- Prepare legally-binding succession plans
- Join or organize a local production and marketing cooperative
The investors who back individual farm and ranch operations will meet on regular basis with the operators and landowners. They will be asked to:
- Comply with all federal and state securities regulations
- Read and understand market studies, business plans and financials
- Agree to a five-to-seven year investment period for each project
- In cases of financial failure, negotiate with local buyers for the sale of intact production units.
Massena, Iowa Project
We are planning to demonstrate the R&D process in the Massena, Iowa area where we own a half-section of permanent pasture. This pasture is too small to be profitable as a free-standing operation.
As soon as the Massena Steering Committee is in place, we will prepare grant applications to fund planning options, market research and business plans along with public and investors education programs.
We intend to develop organic pork, poultry and fresh produce operations once we have enough land under contract. As explained on page 4 of this website, pasture-based organic cattle are basic to regenerative agriculture.
Please contact me with your questions and comments.
Posted: 02-17-2020, Revised 07-19-2021