Ending Animal Ag Summit Breaks New Ground!
On Saturday, February 6th, 2021, thousands watched on Facebook and Zoom as a group of prominent vegans held a summit to end factory farming in the USA and beyond. The summit’s mission is to create a concrete plan to help farmers transition out of animal agriculture, which is killing the planet. It’s a leading cause of climate change, habitat destruction, wildlife extinction, human world hunger and preventable human diseases. It also poses the threat of future pandemics.
More and more animal farmers want to get out from under the thumb of their Big Ag overlords, who trap them in onerous contracts and force them into hideous practices, like mass gassing of their “spent” animals. Click below to watch the summit now.
So, How Can We Help Farmers Escape Animal Agriculture?
Big ideas came out of the conference and will now be refined into committees to turn the ideas into reality. Read all about it and let us know if you want to get involved in a committee by contacting Rancher Advocacy Program founder Renee King-Sonnen at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Renee and her husband Tommy are former Texas cattle ranchers who woke up, went vegan and turned their calf/cow operation into a vegan farmed animal sanctuary named the Rowdy Girl Sanctuary. Now, they’re determined to help other farmers evolve beyond exploiting animals.
Committee #1 – Figure out how to get Climate Bond Funding for a Massive Farm Transition Project.
Green Bonds, also known as Climate Bonds, are all the rage right now and billions of dollars are being poured into them. The money goes into green projects that help mitigate climate change. For example, climate bonds fund projects that involve the sustainable use of land. So, transitioning farmers who are currently producing high carbon footprint animals into producers of low carbon footprint plant products is precisely in keeping with the mission of climate bonds. Claire Smith, who runs the very successful exchange-traded fund VEGN, which invests in cruelty-free and vegan companies, says the process is not as complicated as it might sound. The non-profit Climate Bonds Initiative holds regular training seminars on the subject. Already, two summit participants have said they want to sign up. Claire has said she is willing to be on the Green Bond committee and use her platform, Beyond Animal, to coordinate farmers and others who are involved in transitioning out of animal ag.
As the summit co-host, I said the idea of Climate Bonds funding farmers who are transitioning out of animal agriculture is a brilliant solution. We need to transition farmers in groups so they can find strength in numbers and the economy of scale, perhaps through local or regional cooperatives. This kind of coordination and infrastructure requires huge amounts of investment, which is precisely what green bonds provide.
Committee #2 – Getting the U.S. Government on the Right Side of History
Right now the U.S. government spends billions propping up and subsidizing the meat and dairy industry while simultaneously vowing to combat climate change. Those two missions completely clash. The summit focused on some promising developments.
Laura Reese, of the Agriculture Fairness Alliance, raises money to hire lobbyists to walk the halls of Congress and push for legislation that helps farmers, particularly small farmers, produce organic fruits and vegetables, as opposed to underwriting massive farms producing massive amounts of soy, corn and other staples that are mostly fed to farmed animals. Laura discussed the At Risk Farmer & Rancher Diversification & Transitioning Act, which her organization is pushing.
Committee #3 – Creating a Supply Chain Hub to Connect Farmers and Marketers
Geoff Whaling, of the National Hemp Association, kicked off the summit with some fantastic breaking news. After years of grueling work, he’s gotten the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to donate millions into research projects to resolve supply chain issues. About two dozen universities are involved. Hemp is a hot and sturdy crop that would be a fantastic alternative for animal farmers. But, there are lots of supply chain issues to be worked out first.
Speaking of supply chain issues, Brett Christofell, founder of the successful vegan jerky company All Y’alls Foods made a wise observation. What’s needed most is a hub connecting farmers with product makers to coordinate what farmers can grow that will actually be purchased. Brett said he would reach out to his connections, including the Plant Based Foods Association. Some of the crops most in demand include peas and fava beans.
Empowering Consumers and Small Farmers to Create Their Own Food & Take the Power Back!
The Summit was thrilled to feature celebrity influencer and documentary producer John Lewis. Known as the Bad Ass Vegan, John is producing a powerful and highly anticipated film called They’re Trying to Kill Us. As the title suggests, this film explores how the meat, dairy, and pharmaceutical industries profit off of the illness of consumers, particularly consumers of color. Empowering those consumers to reject meat and dairy laden fast food (and the prescription drugs that often follow) is at the heart of John’s message. The discussion included a prediction that if African-Americans, as a consumer group, joined together to boycott fast food, it would collapse the meat, dairy and pharmaceutical industries and leverage those food dollars into a powerful political force. In an appalling turn of events, as John was speaking, the summit’s zoom was infiltrated by trolls who wrote deeply offensive racist messages on the zoom chat. The tech team immediately found and ejected the trolls but the damage was done. Both hosts, Jane Velez-Mitchell and Renee King-Sonnen, were horrified and posted statements on their Instagram accounts condemning the hateful words. John kept his cool and handled the situation with admirable grace and composure. He is our hero and this unfortunate incident has only deepened our resolve to eradicate hate and violence in word and in deed.
Committee #4 – Creating a Clearing House for Information on Transitioning Farms to Plant-Based Models
There was so much information pouring forth during the summit that it became clear that a global clearinghouse is needed for the three-dimensional chess game that is farm transition. Each farm offers unique challenges in terms of acreage, geography, climate, animals currently on the land, contracts, mortgages, debt, etc. But, that shouldn’t mean that each farmer has to reinvent the wheel alone. There needs to be strategic planning and infrastructure.
RancherAdvocacy.org has committed to creating a resource guide on its website. The farmers who participated said there is tons of information out there that needs to be organized into a central clearinghouse. Geraldine Starke, of Refarm’d, spoke to us from Spain. She is helping dairy farmers transition to the production and sale of oat milk while turning their farms into animal sanctuaries. Brilliant idea!
Jay and Katja Wilde, are former animal farmers in the United Kingdom, who are now doing it! They are selling oat milk and no longer raising animals. They told us they are thrilled and thanked Refarm’d for leading the way. These ex-animal farmers urge others to follow suit, insisting they have never looked back and are so relieved to be out of the animal exploitation business.
Peter Albrecht runs a vegan farm in Sweden and told us that Europe has gotten quite organized around the issue of veganic farming with this central website. biocyclic-vegan.org, which helps farmers set up and get rolling. Veganic farming involves growing crops with no animal products used whatsoever. The soil is veganic, meaning no manure or animal body parts are used as fertilizer. This is the ultimate in health and produces the absolute ideal version of vegan food. Bottom line: Europe seems ahead of us when it comes to transitioning out of animal agriculture. But, the USA can and will catch up.
And, Let’s Not Forget The Biggest Game Changer
Lab-grown meat is about to take center stage globally. The first official restaurant serving of lab-grown chicken occurred recently in Singapore and made global headlines. Meanwhile, Israel’s Aleph Farms is a cell-based meat company on the forefront of this futuristic food source. Lee Recht spoke to us from Israel and explained that they are a couple of years away from hitting the consumer market. However, when it does happen, it will be the ultimate game-changer. There is controversy within the vegan community about the ethics of what is also called cultured meat or clean meat. It is grown in a lab, in a process that has been compared to brewing beer, using farmed animal cells. However, with 80 billion animals being tortured and slaughtered in the factory farming system every year, it is the animals who will pay the price for a purity that excludes this solution. Whatever reduces suffering the most is the morally correct way to go.