How Can We Evolve Beyond Animal Agriculture?
On Saturday, November 21st the Rancher Advocacy Program joined forces with the JaneUnChained News Network and held a global virtual summit to tackle the most important question of our time:
How Can Farmers and Ranchers Thrive, on their Land, Without Animals?
The summit was viewed by more than 18-thousand people on Facebook, originating at Facebook.com/JaneVelezMitchell and crossposting to dozens of other organizations (listed below) that gave us permission. It was also viewed by hundreds who attended the event via zoom. You can watch it all below.
A Who’s Who of Vegan Thought Leaders!
The panel included internationally recognized filmmaker Kip Andersen, of Cowspiracy and What the Health fame, Miyoko Schinner of Miyoko’s Creamery, one of the world’s top vegan cheese and butter brands and Leah Garces, President of Mercy for Animals. Stanford PhD, author and systems analyst Dr. Sailesh Rao of Climate Healers also spoke, along with internationally recognized food justice activist Eugene Cooke of Grow Where You Are. Kim Sturla, executive director of Animal Place Sanctuary and Robert Grill0, head of Free from Harm also weighed in. David Simon, author of the celebrated book Meatonomics attended the event as a viewer and then joined in with commentary. Renee King-Sonnen moderated the panel, along with journalist and author Jane Velez-Mitchell, the editor of this news site.
Texas Ranchers Gone Vegan Shared Their Personal Evolution to Compassion!
Renee King-Sonnen gained fame as the wife of Texas cattle rancher Tommy Sonnen. She convinced her husband to turn his cattle ranch into a farmed animal sanctuary. They both went vegan and are now encouraging other ranchers to do the same! Both shared their story and showed emotional videos outlining their journey to compassion. Two other Texas ranching families also joined the panel. Hollie and Davey Schacherl spoke of inheriting their family’s ranching land but not wanting to inherit the cruelty as they raise two vegan children. Richard and Cindy Traylor are two more cattle ranchers who’ve gone vegan. They spoke of their desire to switch to growing bamboo and explained how they realized the act of sending off the animals they raised to slaughter was morally reprehensible and filled them with guilt.
So, How Can They Get Out of Animal Ag?
We are taking a macro approach. As opposed to trying to solve the unique problems of one particular farm or ranch, we are coming up with solutions that can be applied to hundreds or thousands of farms. The summit allowed us to hone into some key challenges and potential solutions.
Problem #1: Money
Many farmers are saddled with mortgages and other debt and there is considerable expense involved in transitioning from existing animal facilities to infrastructure for making other products.
Possible Solution #1: Green Bonds
Also known as Climate Bonds, Green bonds raise funds for new products that will deliver environmental benefits and create a more sustainable economy. It’s a fixed-income instrument specifically earmarked to raise money for specific projects, like sustainable agriculture. Green bonds are typically asset-backed and come with tax incentives to encourage investment. Huge companies are now under pressure to invest in Green Bonds. If we could gather a collection of farms together to offer their land as collateral for a green bond in return for wiping out their debt and having them agree to become part of a systematic and professionally overseen transition to plant-based agriculture, this could be a win win.
Possible Solution #2: Regional Cooperatives of Plant-Based Farmers
One of the key complaints farmers have is that their situation is unique in terms of geography, soil, weather, etc. However, each farmer should not have to reinvent the wheel. Farmers in the same region share geography, weather and even soil. Regional cooperatives where groups of farmers join forces to transition to one particular product or one selection of products could allow for cost savings in transition and economies of scale. It would also open up markets, facilitating possible contracts with plant-based companies who need specific ingredients. The cooperative would seek to create the infrastructure and coordinate with buyers.
This summit was just the start. We are having another one on Saturday, February 6th at 10am Pacific, noon Central, 1pm Eastern. Mark your calendars and visit RancherAdvocacy.org to sign up! We need your thoughts too!
Thanks to our sponsors, listed on the image above. We also want to express our gratitude to our crossposting partners listed here!
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Jane Velez-Mitchell is an award-winning TV journalist and New York Times best-selling author. She is the founder of UnchainedTV and the host of several shows on the network.