Niman Ranch just rung in its 20th Annual Hog Farmer Appreciation Dinner in Des Moines by announcing that the company will bring another 750 independent family farms and ranchers on board over the next 10 years. Further, Niman Ranch has committed to supporting 1,500 sustainable family farms by 2028. To achieve these farmer feats, the company is jumping feet first into recruitment efforts.
“It took us 20 years to get here, and now we’ll double it in ten. We have the opportunity to break away from being captive to the commodity markets,” General Manager Jeff Tripician stated. “We’ve always said, ‘One farmer at a time,’ and that is and was a victory for every rural community. Now we’ll do more. The market is ready and there are farmers out there that are ready for the stability that a premium meat company like Niman Ranch can provide.”
Niman Ranch’s recruitment includes debuting Gilt and Boar Gift program for young farmers, recent college graduates, and military veterans. Over $300,000 in sows have been made available to qualifying farmers, according to a press release. The funds go toward getting a farming business started, growing herbs, improving genetics, and making more more money. This new program is part of 16 Reasons to Be a Niman Ranch Farmer Partner, and the company is hoping to continue paying farmers above-market prices as the decade progresses.
“In a time of depressed hog prices, tariffs, trade wars, and a slow outlook for hog futures, we are going to grow,” Tripician said. “Our market is stronger than ever, our customers are more committed than they have ever been, and we must keep up with consumer demand.”
Niman Ranch also offers yearly scholarships for farm families and their children to go to college without feeling the weight of debt upon their return. The collaboration is called the Next Generation Scholarship Fund, which became a 501c3 organization this year and raised $150,000 thanks to 60 donors. According to a press release, about 32 students benefited from the funds raised. A $10,000 Phyllis Wills Pioneer Award was given to two students, and the original Dave Sterling Scholarship was also given to deserving recipients.
“With student loan debt affecting two-thirds of college graduates today, paying for college is a substantial barrier for young farmers and ranchers who face rising land costs. The number of beginning farmers in America fell by 20 percent between 2007 and 2012 alone. Niman Ranch recognizes that combating the burden of student loan debt is crucial to helping new farmers stay on the land,” Senior Director of the Live Team Operations Jim Wallace shared.
The company continues to march toward making farming sustainable and practical, pointing to the vast array of customers it currently serves.
“Niman Ranch remains committed to helping make small family farms viable and to supporting the communities in which they thrive. We know we’re doing something right because more young people want to work with us. Our animals are raised with care, and we care deeply about the farmer, the environment, and the customer,” Paul Willis, Founder of Niman Ranch Pork Division said. “Customers range from the busy shopper at a progressive grocery store in California, to colleges, hotels, fast casual restaurants, to a top chef in New York City and every state in between. They honor the work we do as farmers by cooking with the most sustainable, humane, and best tasting product.”
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