Today I kicked off Season 3 of the Small Farm Nation podcast. This year I’ll be doing lots of interviews with folks involved with all aspects of sustainable farming. All types of farmers and other businesses who bring you sustainably produced farm products. So whether you’re a farmer, you want to become a farmer or you’re a local food advocate, you’re gonna really enjoy this season.
In this week’s episode, I talk with Greg Judy, who went from having $8 in his pocket 20 years ago to now farming over 1,600 acres. He did it all using other people’s money and, in the beginning, other people’s cows! Now he owns a herd of up to 400 cows, owns and leases land and is teaching others about mob grazing.
Greg shares great tips on leasing farmland, fencing, rotational and mob grazing and more. He’s a great mentor for anyone looking to scale a pasture-based farming operation without tying up a lot of capital.
LISTEN TO THE EPISODE HERE. Or, if you have an Alexa device, just say: “Alexa, play podcast Small Farm Nation.“
This Week’s Episode Sponsored by
Farmers Web: Software for Your Farm
What I’m Reading/Watching/Listening To
- I watch a lot of documentaries that relate to our food system. This week I watched Eating Animals, which is based on Jonathan Safran Foer’s book and is narrated/produced by Natalie Portman. I expected it to be an in-your-face “go vegan” film–but it wasn’t. Good thing I kept an open mind, because it was a good view into factory farming and provided a touching profile of one farmer who was trapped as a factory farmer. It’s easy to condemn factory farmers, but many of them were lured into a debt strangling debacle from which they can’t escape.
- On Audible, I listened to The Stranger in the Woods. It’s an excellent nonfiction story of a man who disappeared decades ago and has lived 27 years in the Maine woods. During that time he had only one encounter with another human. But he survived by robbing from people’s vacant cabins, and, after committing over 1,000 burglaries, was finally captured. A fascinating read/listen.
Food News You Can Use
Dairy farming is dying. After 40 years, I’m done: Washington Post
“After 40 years of dairy farming, I sold my herd of cows this summer. The herd had been in my family since 1904; I know all 45 cows by name. I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to take over our farm — who would? Dairy farming is little more than”…<read full story>
RELATED: Meanwhile, while smaller dairy farms are dropping like flies in all parts of the country, huge mega-dairies are being built just for the purpose of exporting milk to China (read While Small Dairy Farms Shut Down, This Mega-Dairy Is Shipping Milk to China: Civil Eats). Talk about the polar opposite of local food!
Small dairy farmers are really struggling in the U.S. They’re going out of business at an alarming rate in every state, beging replaced by mega-dairies.
I believe the solution to the problem small dairies face is two-fold.
- Dairy farmers need to get control of their prices by producing more value-added products, such as raw milk, artisan cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.
- These small farmers need support from their local community, and that means becoming better at building a brand and attracting customers.
I realize that many dairy farmers enjoy milking and caring for their cows and don’t want to create a value-added product. But the alternative is similar to the problem faced by chicken farmers who are bullied by “big poultry”; they’re subject to the terms of a one-sided contract from a large, single buyer. It’s an EXTREMELY risky proposition.
With the traditional dairy model of selling milk to a processor, dairy farmers rely on a milk contract. Therefore they don’t have to do any marketing at all. But if they hope to take control of their prices and their future, that has to change.
Author David Gumpert seems to argue for farmers to make the transition to raw milk in his piece, Can Raw Milk Survive Being in the Most Pathetic Food Industry? If you read the piece and the comments, what he’s really saying is that farmers should stop playing victim and take control of their business, just as ANY business owner must do in ANY industry. This is precisely the case I made in my podcast episode, Wal-Mart is Not the Problem. You Farm Business Model Is. I took some heat for my opinions from frustrated dairy farmers…but I stand by what I said in that episode. Like it or not, them’s the rules of business.
What I’m Working On
- Do a Google search on “who is the sexiest farmer” and check out the #1 organic result. Yep…that’s me. So, according to Google, yours truly is the sexiest farmer anywhere. This fun exercise I did last year is a good lesson in SEO. You can type a bunch of Google phrases that I rank #1 for, including many that I don’t even want (such as “how to sell grass fed beef“). Ranking highly is important for all of us because, as you know, we all turn to Google (or Alexa) to answer our questions.
- My best tip for achieving your own high-rankings (beyond sound on-page SEO) is frequent blogging and content marketing. Whether you want to rank #1 organically for “how to choose a name for your farm“, “farm marketing course” or something else, content marketing can help you get there.
- If you’re a Small Farm Nation Academy member, here’s a link to my 9-Video course on Content Marketing & Blogging.
- Finally, I just added an 11-lesson course to the Academy on How to Start an Artisan Cheese Business. Even if you’re not interested in starting one you may get a lot out of this course. If you know anyone with a small, family dairy, let them know about this course and the Academy.
Thanks for Appreciating My Work 🙂
- A recent iTunes review: “Tim is doing a great job creating an entertaining and information-packed podcast. His how to’s will help redirect you to staying on-point, and his interviews will inspire you and give you some valuable ah-ha moments.” – Jackie@Auburn Meadow Farm (Leave your own review on iTunes here).
- A recent review of my book, Start Prepping: “I’ve read a lot of books on prepping and this is at the top of the list. It’s a great introduction for those new to preparedness, and there’s a lot of useful information for those who have been at it for a while. I wish everyone in America would read this book and follow Tim Young’s advice.“