All People have access to healthy and humanely raised meat, dairy and eggs
All farm animals are raised humanely so that everyone has access to safe and healthy food
Recipients of FACT's Fund-A-Farmer Grant program for humane livestock farmers.
Sheep at Bishop Katahdin's Farm
Brattsett Family Farm
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT)
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small NGO (under 50 employees)
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
United States of America
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Our vision will focus on a diverse region in Wisconsin, containing the bulk of Wisconsin's 5.8 million people.
What country is your selected Place located in?
United States of America
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
Our vision will focus on a diverse region in Wisconsin, covering the lower 2/3 of the state. This region contains most of the population of the state, as well as most of the farm land. It is diverse geographically and culturally. It includes large urban areas of Madison, Milwaukee and Green Bay, as well as smaller rural towns, and many farms of all sizes. People throughout the United States, in urban and rural settings, are negatively affected by the industrialized factory farming system. We decided to focus on a region in Wisconsin because it is a microcosm of the rest of the country . All of the different factors and challenges in our food system are represented in this region. FACT has two Board members from Wisconsin. One has a family farm where she raises pasture-based cattle. The other has a meat business in Milwaukee, selling only grass-fed meat. FACT's Humane Farming Program Director lives in Milwaukee. While we work nationally, we have strong roots in Wisconsin, and many grant recipients are from this state. It is a state with a rich agricultural history, and one of the largest dairy and meat producers in the country.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
We will work in the lower 2/3 of Wisconsin, highlighted in this map
The region we are working in is one of the most diverse regions in the United States. Geographically it covers the coastal land along western Lake Michigan to the rolling hills of most of southern Wisconsin, to the Mississippi River on the western edge of the state, touching on the geographically unique Driftless region. It includes large urban cities that tend to be liberal politically, with many and varied food choices, and a mixed socio-economic base, from the very wealthy to the urban poor. The University of Wisconsin in Madison is the cornerstone of research and education in the state. Once you get out of the major cities the state is very rural, and more conservative in many ways – politically and socially. The socio-economic standard in these rural communities is much lower than in the suburban areas, with higher unemployment and fewer economic opportunities. According to the Wisconsin Poverty from 2017 the highest poverty rates in the state are in the large urban Milwaukee County, and in the more rural Eau Claire and Chippewa Counties. Overall economic disparities within a large urban county such as Milwaukee are huge, as is access to humanely raised meat, milk and eggs. While Wisconsin has a large number of farms, many rural residents do not have the spectrum of choices for food that exist in some urban centers. There are few grocery stores, and people often have to drive large distances to get to a grocery store . These stores have fewer healthy and sustainably raised choices for food, and most of the meat and dairy is raised conventionally. Agriculture in the region is primarily animal based, with almost 70% of farm sales in dairy, livestock and poultry. Among the food animals, dairy is number one in Wisconsin followed by cattle, and chickens raised for meat. The region is very divided between the urban and rural populations, and between poor and wealthy. These divisions have grown larger in the past 10 years. According to the above-mentioned report: “wages in key low-skill occupations in Wisconsin were actually lower in 2017 than in 2010.” This is true among the urban poor of Milwaukee as well as among the rural poor of Eau Claire.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
Animal production today focuses on maximizing farm output with welfare only considered when it begins to impact productivity. Because of this, most animals raised for meat today are raised in large factory farms, where the animals live a good portion of their lives in confined, crowded, unhealthy settings that lead to diseases in the animals. These diseases are then managed by the routine use of antibiotics in feed and drinking water. While dairy farms traditionally have allowed cows access to pasture this has changed drastically as farms have gotten larger. Now in the U.S. more than half of the milk produced is from cows raised indoors with no access to pasture. Raising animals this way is directly bad for animal health and welfare it also puts people at risk through infections transmitted from animals to farm workers, through environmental contamination, and through food. The routine use of antibiotics means that these infections are drug resistant making them harder to treat and contributing to the growing spread of antibiotic resistant superbugs. For consumers who eat meat and dairy products – and who would like to live more sustainably – the humane production of food animals offers an achievable middle ground for reducing pollution and greenhouse gasses while also addressing animal welfare concerns. Antibiotic resistance is an undeniably serious and growing problem in the United States, one caused by overuse of antibiotics both in human medicine and in agriculture. In November 2019, the CDC reported there are at least 2.8 million serious antibiotic-resistant infections in the United States that result in more than 35,000 deaths annually—prompting concern that we are on the verge of a “post-antibiotic era.” The number of deaths is most likely considerably higher than that. The industrialized agricultural system unfairly favors large, factory farms, while smaller farms that use pasture-based, humane methods for raising their livestock, often struggle to make ends meet. Thus, even though there are many younger people interested in this type of farming, they find it hard to succeed and often leave agriculture altogether. The Secretary of Agriculture recently told dairy farmers in Wisconsin: “Get big or get out.” That is the current policy of the US government. In April 2019 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that “Dairy Farmers are in Crisis—and it Could Change Wisconsin Forever.” Wisconsin lost almost 700 dairy farms in 2018. Without a concerted effort that includes policy changes, fewer and fewer young people will go into farming, and this situation will continue to deteriorate. Without changes to the way farm animals are raised, overall health will be negatively affected, family farmers will be pushed out of existence, and our environment and planet will only get worse until it reaches the cris
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
Our team believes that our vision for a food system where everyone has access to healthy and humanely raised meat and dairy products addresses the challenges of our current industrial, factory farmed system. We envision a food system where all animals are raised in humane conditions. We believe that all farm animals should be granted adequate space, access to the outdoors, clean water and air, safe feed, and the opportunity to express their natural behaviors. FACT's Humane Farming Program encourages farmers to use humane practices to improve farm animal welfare and the public to support humane farms. When farm animals are raised humanely, as described above, they are, for the most part, healthy, and do not have a need for preventative antibiotics or for antibiotics to be given regularly in their feed. This results in healthier animals and healthier animal products for consumers. There is ample evidence of the nutritional benefits of pasture-raised food, particularly when compared to food from animals raised in confinement. Animals that are raised outdoors on well-managed pasture eat a diverse diet of plants. They are also exposed to sunshine and are able to exercise. This results in healthier animals…and more nutritious food for people. We believe that all people should have access to this healthy food, no matter their socio-economic status. We believe that this system that we envision will improve our environment and lower the amount of carbon emissions that result from factory farms. We believe that many more people will want to farm if the conditions are clean and healthy for the animals and for the people, and if they are justly rewarded economically. Governmental policies are a big factor that can contribute to better conditions for family farmers.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
People throughout the United States, in urban and rural settings, are negatively affected by the industrialized factory farming system. We decided to focus on a region in Wisconsin because it is a microcosm of the rest of the country . All of the different factors and challenges in our food system are represented in this region. In urban settings most people don’t have access to healthy, humanely- raised meat or dairy products, and this has a negative impact on their health. There are some healthy grocers and coops in these settings that carry grass-fed meat and dairy products, but they are often too expensive for the majority of the population. In rural settings throughout Wisconsin the economic conditions are difficult, and often they do not have any access to healthy, humanely raised meat or dairy products. Family farmers throughout Wisconsin are struggling and many are going out of business. Our vision is to connect urban with rural, farmers with consumers. We will work with partners throughout the state to demonstrate what a healthy food system can look like. We will begin with a focus on the Madison area, which can be a prototype for the entire state. This will include working with institutions such as the University Hospitals, local co-ops, farming organizations and consumer organizations.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Antibiotic resistance threats in the United States, 2013. Atlanta: CDC; 2013. Page 14. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/drugresistance/pdf/ar-threats-2013-508.pdf
Our food system today is not a healthy one. People are suffering from many diseases as a result of a broken food system. Superbugs are rampant and people are dying from these superbugs. Farm animals are being mistreated. They are raised in inhuman conditions and the meat products being passed on to people are not healthy. We envision a much different picture in 2050. Animals will no longer be raised in confined quarters. They will be raised in natural settings that enable them to eat a diet that is their natural diet, pasture-based. As a result they will be healthy, and the meat and dairy products derived from these animals will be good for people. This will have a positive impact on the environment, reducing the pollutants that are the result of factory farms. These changes will have a positive economic impact on family farmers. Those raising livestock will be able to make a living from their work, and will work in a healthier atmosphere that will improve their overall health and well-being. With this improvement, more people will continue to farm and the trend of farmers leaving this field because of economic hardship will be reversed. These positive changes to the food system will be the result of both grass-roots pressure and better policies guiding agricultural practices. More consumers are already recognizing the positive health implications of eating grass-fed meat and dairy products. They recognize that animals raised in healthy environments result in healthier food for human beings. We will focus our efforts on a diverse region within Wisconsin, with urban and rural residents, wealthy and poor residents. This region includes a large number of farmers in one of the most productive agricultural states. Within this region we will begin with a focus on Madison and its surroundings. We will show how institutions, consumers, policy-makers and farmers working together can change their food system. We will work closely with UW Health University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. They have already committed to serving meat without antibiotics and purchasing locally. We believe that this is a model that can be replicated in other hospitals and institutions in Madison and around the state. We will also work with Willy St. Co-op, which is a prime example for all grocery stores for pasture-based meat and dairy. We will work with non-profit organizations in the Madison area to influence policy-makers to make positive changes to the Wisconsin agricultural sector, with a focus on livestock. With this team in place, we can show how healthy meat and dairy can have a positive impact on the entire food system. We can use this model for communicating with communities in a large urban setting such as Milwaukee or a more rural setting such as La Crosse. All these communities have more in common than they may realize. Currently, many people do not have access to good, healthy meat and dairy products that have been raised humanely. Yet, all people residing in these communities will tell you that they want to have healthy diets, they want to know that their environment is clean and free of pollutants, they want to earn a decent living and know that the farmer, where their food is coming from, is also being treated with respect and earning a good living. People have the same basic interests no matter where they live within this region. Often the emphasis is on the differences among rural or urban dwellers. We will focus on what they have in common, and how a healthy food system can serve their common needs and bring them together. This is the future we envision. In 2050 we will have overcome the many challenges we have mentioned to a healthy food system. This diverse region of Wisconsin will be prime example for the rest of the United States and the world of what a healthy food system looks like, and how it can be a model for bringing people together and creating positive change on the many levels we have described above.
How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?