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From policy advocates to farmers to workers’ rights organizers, and even a veterinarian, the speakers at the What’s The Beef? Slow Food Live session represented a diverse set of perspectives. Although stemming from various backgrounds, the panelists spoke harmoniously on issues such as animal welfare, food safety and processing, creating unique markets for humane animal products, the complexities of workers rights within meat factories, indigenous methods, and the impact of climate change on farming production. One conversation the speakers and attendees were energized by, centered around the use of alternative medicines and methods for sick animals versus antibiotics, which stems from indigenous practices; it was clear there was excitement for more integration of these methods within our food system. The speakers also engaged in a robust conversation about the effects of the pandemic on their operations. Farmers actually found the pandemic to be a wake up call for consumers; it forced people to think more deeply about the origins of their food and the supply chain, and it created new customers for the farmers represented on the panel. The discussion concluded with a call to attendees to engage with policy and lawmakers to shift our food system to be more humane and passionate.

— by Michelle diMuzio, Slow Food USA Editorial Intern

This panel was curated by our national Food and Farm Policy Steering Committee.

Host – Carrie Balkcom – American Grassfed Association, SFUSA Food and Farm Policy Steering Committee
Moderator – Matthew Raiford, Gilliard Farm
Panelists –
Paul Willis, Niman Ranch, on Livestock Producer Fairness
Magaly Licolli, Venceremos, on Fairness for Meat Processing Workers
Daisy Freund, ASPCA, on Humane Farm Animal Treatment
Megan Brown, Table Mountain Ranch, on Livestock, Environment, and Climate

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Niman Ranch is a community of 750 small, independent family farmers and ranchers raising cattle, pigs and lamb humanely and sustainably—with no antibiotics or hormones. Niman Ranch started with one cattle ranch in the Bay area and has grown one farm at a time to be the robust network it is today.  All Niman Ranch farms are Certified Humane and hogs are raised on pasture or in deeply bedded pens.

Niman Ranch pays farmers a premium for their livestock, recognizing the work that goes into raising their animals to Niman’s strict protocols. Niman Ranch has been cited by many farmers as having saved the farm, providing a market for their pork where they are paid a fair price and don’t need to get bigger to survive.