Member Highlight - Niman Ranch

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What types of challenges and opportunities does Niman Ranch’s commitment to sustainability present?  

With the increased awareness about where our food comes from, we have found difficulty in meeting the growing demand for our products. Our commitment to our network of traditional, humane and sustainable family farmers is reflected by our competitive pricing structure.  We reward our family farmers and ranchers by paying a premium price for livestock raised according to our 14 pages of animal welfare and sustainable farming protocols.  An included safety net for our farmers is an established floor price (the minimum we would pay them) that ensures their protection from the marketplace.   

Our farms utilize traditional tried and true practices for raising livestock in a way that best replicates nature. Our 720 independent family farmers and ranchers adhere to the highest animal welfare standards and never use gestation or farrowing crates.  All of our livestock are raised with plenty of room to move and behave naturally and are grown in smaller numbers. Bloomberg News 2015 why and how our pork is different.

Our challenge is maintaining our growth in the market place to continue to reward the responsible practices of our hardworking family farmers and ranchers. 


How do Niman Ranch farmers integrate climate change concerns into their operations? 

For us, addressing the concerns of climate change are part of our sustainable farming initiatives.  Many of the farmers within our network come from generations of family farmers and ranchers that understand the importance of taking care of our natural resources so that they can be passed on to the next generation. We utilize everything on our farms, reducing waste and increasing profits where we can, even leftover corn stalks from harvested fields are baled and used for bedding. Here are some of our top 5 sustainable farming initiatives that address global climate change:

1. Promote agricultural biodiversity by using breeds which thrive in their natural environment.

2. Practice genetic diversity to keep breeds healthy over generations.

3. Maintain livestock density well below the conventional industry standard so the land will not be overburdened.

4. Raise livestock in areas where feed is locally available to reduce transportation needs and lower the carbon footprint.

5. Prohibit the use of concentrated liquid manure systems that are used in conventional feedlot settings.


Livestock often gets a bad rap when it comes to climate change. How does Niman Ranch confront that issue?   

The environment, farming and animal welfare go hand in hand for us. Our natural environment includes both plants and animals. One does not exist without the other. Our farmers raise their livestock in a way that best emulates nature in low density as an integrated part of the overall landscape and farming operation. We do not permit the use of gestation or farrowing crates. Our farms allow the animals to exhibit their natural behaviors growing more slowly and naturally on pasture or deeply bedded pens.  The manure produced is a high nutrient dry natural waste that is beneficial for the soil because our livestock are never treated with any added hormones or antibiotics.      


What are Niman Ranch’s ultimate goals surrounding climate change adaptation and mitigation?

Provide a robust and growing national marketplace for our small, independent family farmers and ranchers to sell their products. Raising consumer awareness about the importance of our sustainable and humane farming practices and how small changes in everyday habits, mixed with effective information gathering and sharing, can lead to a positive impact on our environment in the long run.