Tracy Tomascik raises beef cattle in Central Texas and told a local news station in Texas that these last few years have been difficult for people in his industry.
“I can speak for everybody in the livestock industry across the state,” Tomascik said. “Things have been challenging for the most part when it comes to producing the livestock, the commodity that we sell and these families make a living off of.”
One answer to this economic crisis is to re-engineer farming
Spending $1 billion to invest in more meat production is the opposite of what many companies are doing privately. Elmhurst, the dairy company founded in 1925, made the bold decision to go fully plant-based several years ago, and now is seeing success with its plant-based creamers, milks, and popular non-dairy products.
Instead of spending $100 million in funding to increase the pipeline of workers going into this field, or to bolster the educational efforts of meat producers, the administration could be better aligned with its climate initiatives to grant farmers what they need to re-engineer their production to grow pea protein and create more plant-based ingredients.
One company helping American farmers convert from dairy to oats is , the maker of yogurts, it has started working with dairy farmers in the US to offer the opportunity to grow organic oats as an alternative to raising dairy cows, and they have assembled a coalition to support the farmers with the conversion process. These massive pivots require funding, patients, and a vision and this bail-out appears to be at odds with what we know about animal farming and climate change.
Raising farmed animals is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases and the WHO as well as the UN and Harvard School of Public Health have all warned that in order for our global food systems to be sustainable, we need to eat more plant-based proteins.
Farmers themselves are voluntarily making the switch to plant-based growing, such as Jay Wilde, a farmer featured in the documentary 73 Cows, who retired the cows from his dairy farm and sent them to Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk, UK, and decided to grow oats instead. He decided in 2017 he could not bear to “send the cows to the slaughterhouse for what must be a terrifying death.” Wilde originally produced dairy products, then moved to produce organic beef and now, three years later, Wilde is transitioning to produce oat milk, a more sustainable and kinder option to cow’s milk.
Wilde worked with Refarm’d, an organization that helps dairy farmers transition to producing plant-based milk to transform Bradley Nook Farm in Ashbury, UK. According to Refarm’d’s website, “By uniting together with farmers and providing them with the tools they need to move away from the dairy trade, we’re offering a viable new opportunity for their businesses to be part of the growing plant-based movement.”
Bottom Line: The $1 Billion Bail Out to Farmers Could Be Used to Help Them Grow Plant-Based Protein Instead