A new way to farm without killing animals
Jay Wilde was born into the family farm with an environmentally-minded father who never engaged with business-like intensive farming such as the usage of artificial fertilizers and herbicides. He inherited a dairy farm in England in 2011, so initially he produced dairy goods, before moving onto organic beef. But in 2017, he and his wife Katja could no longer bear to send the cows to the slaughterhouse for what must be a terrifying death. They made headlines by rehoming the cows at an animal sanctuary, and the UK Vegan Society worked with him to switch to alternative farming practices.
Jay is now working with Refarm’d, an organization that works to give animal farmers a new business model that doesn’t benefit from the exploitation of animals. They helped him to make a smooth shift into a booming market that is the plant milk industry, enabling him to keep his farm with the remaining 17 retired cows. Jay and Katja Wilde spent time finessing their business model so that they could ensure producing oat milk was sustainable and profitable, while providing themselves with a cruelty-free source of income. While they had initially started producing organic vegetables, they found that a project producing oat milk was the ideal complement.
Geraldine Starke, CEO of Refarm’d, pointed out that the dairy industry is struggling, and this mostly affects farmers who don’t have a say on the price they sell the milk and therefore often sell for less than production costs, leaving them struggling to make it work. “I believe to help our farmers, we need to help them get out of this system. And that’s what we are trying to do at Refarm’d,” she said.
Seeing the need for change, more and more farmers from around the world are getting in touch with the organization. Under Refarm’d model, farmers continue feeding the population by providing a healthy and fresh, handmade product, made with local ingredients to customers local to them. The production costs are low and they help the farm over time to optimize their global costs so that farmers earn a better life with less effort. This shows a way for what the future of farming could look like.