Page 1: Financing Regenerative Farms

It is well known that our commodity-based food system has reduced real farm profits to the point where most working and retired producers cannot afford to help finance children and grandchildren who want to keep farming. Nor can we afford to rebuild depleted soils.

It is obvious that we need more farmers and far better profits to organize large-scale regenerative crop and livestock rotations along with modern food processing for nearby cities. However, as shown in USDA research reports, most low-and-moderate-income producers who limit themselves to wholesale markets will go out of business.

Farmer-Owned Retail Food Brands

Regenerative producers need their own retail food brands. To build these brands, we also need contracts with input suppliers and wholesale operations like feedlots, grain companies, and local packing houses. These companies can help us control costs and build volume for farmer-owned retail brands. We also need local investors to help with capital and operating costs for new pastures and organic crop and livestock rotations.

Investor Backing

Given that farmers are over-leveraged and mostly unprofitable, regenerative farmers need direct investor backing. Direct investors sit at the same table with landowners and farmers to negotiate ROI from the sale of specialty commodities, and in time, farmer-owned retail brands. With sufficient (but limited) investor backing, organized farmers can position themselves to negotiate contracts with commodity buyers, processors, distributors, and retailers.

Once these contracts are in place, we can begin to build local consumer awareness and brand support. Our approach to financing regenerative farms, ranches, orchards, and gardens includes the following elements:

• Scalable production units located near big cities
• Lease/purchase agreements between experienced landowners and young producers
• Limited production of organic grain, hay, and alfalfa for high-value meat and poultry
• Farmer-owned retail food brands supported by contracts with local processors
• Extensive public and investor education programs

Producers who sell their own branded products through farmers markets and other local venues have taken the first steps toward consistent farm profits. Researchers from Iowa State University have shown why farmer-owned retail food brands are needed for consistent farm profits.

To succeed, these local “brand leaders” need secure access to land and professional marketing along with processing and financing. Our brand development team includes legal, farm management, banking, and marketing professionals.

Beef First

Research has shown why cattle and permanent pasture are central to long term soil fertility, and by extension, consistent farm profits.

We want to hear from conventional, specialty, and organic beef cow-calf producers who are interested in retail beef brands.

Demonstration Projects

I own two farms, one just west of Omaha and the other between Des Moines and Omaha. Our brand development team will use these farms to demonstrate how farmers and ranchers can organize land, processing, and financing for high-value commodity markets and profitable, producer-owned retail organic food brands.

More Information

Page 2 is on organizing land, markets, processing, and financing.

Market issues are explained on page 3.

Page 4 summarizes our qualifications.

Please contact me to arrange an on-line discussion.

Thank you.

Jim Steffen
js@raisedfree.org
402-317-2639

Posted 01-09-2024