Stand Fast Farms and a conversation on fair labor

 

I’m starting out June’s ‘Monthly Focus’ on equity by looking at all different kinds of farms here in WNY and putting a spotlight on how they treat their land, animals, and laborers. Our first farm to be featured is Stand Fast Farm, run by Tim Grant, a long-time favorite of the Levay-Krause household.

I’m trying to show that it’s critical that our farmers, laborers, and small-scale producers are paid a wage that is equal to their labor and end product. I know of too many farmers and small-scale producers who feel they must cut prices in order to keep their customers and to bring in new ones but that often makes making ends meet more difficult.

I’ve asked all of my farmers and producers that I’ve interviewed:

  1. Would you agree with that above assessment?
  2. Do you feel that there is something that could be done on the consumer end to increase awareness of your and your fellow farmers true financial value?
  3. Do you think there is a way to be able to meet the fiscal needs of the farm and still be able to pay yourself and your laborers a fair wage?

My goal is not politically motivated, but to shine a light on inequity in Western New York’s agriculture system and what local food producers believe can be done to right the wrongs in our system.

If you know someone you believe would have have something substantial to share on agricultural equity/inequity, please connect with me by email at soleofbuffalo@gmail.com.

Thank you for your continued support!

Stand Fast Farm’s Exclusively Grass Fed Beef

Tim came flying out of the gate with these inspirational observations, “Annie, thank you for supporting us and helping our community to rally together and make Western New York a more pleasant place to live!

Raising food on a small scale and using natural practices does add cost to the food produced as you already know. I believe we all share the burden in making this added cost be as painless as possible. We are finding more and more people want to understand where their food comes from and what it is. They realize the true cost of production when they talk to the farmer and put a face to that process.

The farmer has the burden to be as efficient as possible and seek ways to keep costs down while staying in sync with nature. I believe that people who want to produce food need to accept the risk that comes along with it and being willing to stand in front of the fan when the crap hits it. This is where faith steps in and I put my hope in God’s promise to never leave me or forsake me, even when it looks really bad. I find that if my hope wavers I start to self destruct whereas if I stay firmly planted with my eyes on Christ I continue to move and make good decisions as if nothing bad was on the horizon.

I believe it is important to surround ourselves with people who will encourage us to Stand Fast smile emoticon A strong organic minded community has formed in Western New York and is growing because of people like you! Thank you!

I think we in the organic community can hold the established farming community at an arms length and reject any wisdom they have. This is not beneficial for building strong organic farms or farming communities. It behooves us to realize that conventions are established because they work on some level. Sometimes the conventional farming methods don’t transgress the organic goals we have. I am trying to be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water.

Stand Fast Farm would not be what it is without the help of family and friends. I would encourage any farm start up to develop relationships with farming people and be looking for opportunities in whatever form they present themselves.

I am personally not socialist politically but as a Christian I am very much in line with the idea that my success should not come at the expense of others. I also am motivated by a desire to lift hurting and broken people out of the pit they are in. One of my deepest desires is to lower the price of production of our beef to make it more affordable to people at lower income levels. I don’t want Stand Fast to be a sign of affluence but rather value and excellence.

I don’t believe it is sustainable for the government to subsidize organic farms or food. The burden is on the producer to find answers in nature and community. I ask the Lord for His wisdom when I’m needing answers because I figure the creator knows how to handle His creation.

I know people make it through this life without a relationship with Christ but I don’t know how. I would not be able to handle the stresses of farming and life without Him.

I do believe farmers and farm workers can earn a fair wage but it cannot be measured the same way other jobs are. I put a value on working outside in nature. As long as my needs are met I will be happy. I have found that as time goes on, our name means something and we have not needed to cut prices. I would encourage other farms to not sacrifice standards but focus on building their brand. It can hurt today but it is the only way forward

I don’t believe that everything is ok in the local food movement and on small farms trying to make a living. We are subsidizing our farms with off farm jobs and find it challenging to afford the food we produce.

I will admit that government initiatives can and have been a help to us personally. We don’t pay for health insurance, and we are applying for a grant to build a barn.

They say farmers are equity rich and cash poor but people trying to start farming have neither so it is a tough go. My perspective is a little jaded because I grew up equity rich and cash poor. Equity gives you the tools to produce food and borrowing power. I really don’t know how people dive into farming without any background in farming or wealth from some other job. I suppose the government could expand efforts to help these people.

We have found the co-operative model of business to be very helpful. Our lender Farm Credit is a co-op, we sell to co-op markets and shared labor with neighboring farmers are all key components of financial viability.”

I remarked, “I am so happy that there are silver linings for you though and that you have found a way to strike a good balance. I may no longer be a spiritual person but I still understand, honor, and appreciate how having faith and steering true to your moral center strengthens your resolve and ability to weather any storm. In that I am blessed to know you and others like you.”

After a bit more back and forth on our families and their similarities, Tim continued,”Annie, thank you for sharing your background! My family is Scottish as well, Standards Fast is the Grant clan motto. I can’t endorse Bernie Sanders due to differences in our visions but I think it is important for voices like his to be part of the political process in Washington.

I totally respect your position on faith because my understanding of God is that He doesn’t force us to change or believe He exists. Thank you for allowing me to share some very deep aspects of who I am!

Stand fast is the motto of course!”

 

I am so grateful to Tim and his candor, it was refreshing to hear such straight talk on such a difficult and usually politically meandering issue. Stand Fast Farm products can be found at the Lexington co-op and CrossFit Buffalo.

 

Advertisements