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Given the enormous role agriculture plays in driving global emissions, the expert scientific consensus is that our food system must change if we are to stand a chance against climate change. But doing so will require seismic shifts across the entire food supply chain, from retailers to manufacturers, and crucially, farmers and ranchers, who are often left behind without real solutions to transform their very livelihoods into a sustainable, yet profitable business. Now, there’s a program targeting to do some up with solutions for exactly that.
Rancher Advocacy Program (RAP) is a platform based in the U.S. that is addressing the very issue of how to help guide cattle ranchers and animal farmers into changing their operations into an ethical, environmental, healthy, sustainable and financially profitable business. It’s something that most food systems experts agree must be in the equation when it comes to bringing about global change that isn’t just good for the planet, but for people too.
Launched two years ago, RAP hosts an annual summit to bring together voices across the supply chain who are interested in creating the very solutions needed for farmers and ranchers. This year, RAP hosted its first virtual summit this year on February 6, asking the question of how farmers can not only transition, but thrive on their land, without any animals.
Hosted by founder of the organisation, Rowdy Girl Sanctuary owner Renee King-Sonnen, and Jane Velez-Mitchell, the former CNN television broadcaster and founder of nonprofit animal welfare news network Jane Unchained, among those who attended the summit included farmers, scientists, entrepreneurs and activists and more.
The imminent concerns around food, the economy, the animals, and climate will take all of us working together to reframe the vegan proposition and bring farmers and ranchers to the marketplace of ideas.RAP
Speakers featured on the day included chair of the National Hemp Association, Geoffrey Whaling, founder and CEO of plant-based snack brand All Y’alls Foods, Brett Christoffel, as well as British dairy farmers Jay and Katja Wilde, who are now Veganuary ambassadors who successfully transformed their animal farm into a oat milk business.
Above all, RAP summit emphasises the importance of collaboration for successful change. “The imminent concerns around food, the economy, the animals, and climate will take all of us working together to reframe the vegan proposition and bring farmers and ranchers to the marketplace of ideas,” explains the organisation.
How exactly RAP manages to help farmers is by acting as a bridge, creating an entire network, from end-users to buyers and plant-based businesses to partner up.
“We are building a scaffolding blueprint of innovation, ideas, business models, and solutions that is resulting in a new vision for the plant-based economy, farmers, their families, and the land we all love.”
While RAP already has a number of success stories under its belt, helping a number of farms in the U.S. such as Texas-based Starlove Ranch transition away from cattle ranching into a vegan wedding venue business and the the Barretts in Arkansas who transformed their chicken farm into a mushroom farm, the platform still has ambitious plans ahead.
We are building a scaffolding blueprint of innovation, ideas, business models, and solutions that is resulting in a new vision for the plant-based economy, farmers, their families, and the land we all love.RAP
Their goal for this year, they say on their website, is to hold four summit events to continue amplifying their message across the country. By 2024, they want to launch a large-scale “sanctuary” model to support animals who have left factory farms.
Similar programs have emerged in other countries too, such as the very platform that supported former dairy farmers Jay and Katja Wilde who spoke at the summit this year about turning Bradley Nook Farm into an oat milk producer. The Wildes worked with London-based startup Refarm’d, who helps farmers across the U.K. transition into plant-based dairy businesses – a sector that is only set to see demand grow as more consumers ride the dairy-free wave.
Lead image courtesy of RAP.