On “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg,” Niman Ranch’s Jeff Tripician talks about Niman Ranch’s evolution to support family farming traditions across the United States, which makes the network unique. “What makes Niman Ranch different is what makes the food taste better, what allows the farmers and ranchers to thrive, and what allows animals to live their normal behavior. It’s all the same strand,” says Tripician. “We have relationships with our farmers who agree with what we’re doing because we know that in order for them to thrive, we have to support them.”
You can listen to “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” on Apple iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Spotify, or wherever you consume your podcasts. While you’re listening, subscribe, rate, and review the show; it would mean the world to us to have your feedback.
“Our farmers today are getting paid roughly double what a commodity farmer is getting paid. Niman Ranch doesn’t really care what the rest of the market is doing,” says Tripician. In 2018, the average hog farmer in the United States lost about US$35 per animal they raised—challenges like these caused over 97 percent of hog farmers in the United States to disappear since 1950. “Hog farming families would be on the endangered species list—these are people, families, and communities that are being destroyed,” says Tripician.
To better support farmers, Niman Ranch has recruited customers who are equally passionate about the network’s mission and values. “We need to make sure we have as excited farmers as we do customers,” says Tripician. “Our goal is not to be bigger. Our goal is to make sure that [we have] farmers that want to farm according to our values and that we have customers that are willing to pay for their hard work.”
Encouraging the next generation of hog farmers, Niman Ranch offers mentorship and scholarship programs to young adults. While the national farming age advances into the late 50s, the network’s average farming age shrank down to 47 years as Niman Ranch works more closely with young farmers. “We first went straight to problem areas: lenders didn’t want to lend young people money, so young farmers had to compete for expensive land,” said Tripician. Niman Ranch reached out by co-signing notes to the bank, providing livestock for free, and joining young farmers with more experienced mentors. “The the program turned into a 1-to-1 relationship with the farmers, a true mentoring program,” says Tripician.