Strengthening Community Connections in the Regenerative Poultry Value Chain
This project aims to promote a more equitable supply chain in regenerative poultry, working with a diverse group of Latino and white farmers and processing plant workers in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. In partnership with the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance (RAA), a non-profit organization, we will use a participatory action approach to identify challenges faced by farmers and workers who are organizing this new supply chain. We will explore the use of affinity groups and farmer learning circles to promote structures of democratic governance.
Our research questions include: (1) How do regenerative poultry farmers and processing plant workers currently organize their supply chain, and what are the main challenges they face? (2) What are the benefits and limitations of using affinity groups and farmer-to-farmer learning circles to promote supply chain justice? (3) What current governmental and non-governmental policies and programs exist to support regenerative poultry, particularly for Latino farmers and workers, and what recommendations can we make to better these supports?
The project team, consisting of myself, my advisor, and an undergraduate student, will work closely with the RAA to help organize farmer and worker affinity groups. Farmer-to-farmer learning circles will be organized to increase relationship-building and knowledge-sharing among participants, including current and future producers, and processing plant workers who want to learn where the chicken they process comes from. Focus groups and interviews will be conducted to understand the impact of these activities and the challenges faced by participants as they engage in supply chain development.
Researchers will create a database on current policies and programs that can support this effort, (i.e. cost-share programs, grants, and farmer services). Through community-based discussions, farmers will collaboratively develop strategies for building more equitable supply chains. Our team will synthesize results and present them to participants throughout the project so they can use the findings to make strategic decisions. We will also present at the annual Regenerative Poultry Convergence in 2024 and 2025.
We will evaluate our impact by tracking the number of attendees at affinity group meetings and learning circles. Feedback will be requested through online post-event surveys and evaluation questions in interviews and focus groups to assess the impact of project activities on relationship building, knowledge of regenerative agriculture practices and resources available, and an increased sense of ownership and control over the supply chain.
Project objectives from proposal:
This project aims to better understand and create a more equitable supply chain for regenerative poultry in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
Through the proposed activities, farmers and workers will learn about structures of shared governance and peer-to-peer learning including how to run farmer learning circles and affinity groups. We will provide opportunities for farmers, workers, and community members to learn from each other about the benefits of regenerative poultry practices, and how to implement these on their farms. Lastly, participants will learn about programs and policies that can support farms and supply chain development.
The expected action outcomes from the project activities include changes on the farms and across the supply chain. Farmers will implement regenerative poultry practices leading to improved soil health, quality of life, and profitability. Farmers will share their regenerative poultry best practices with others, leading to wider adoption. Farmers and workers will participate in the development of shared governance structures that will foster equity across the supply chain. Lastly, farmers and workers will make use of the research gathered about policies and programs relevant to regenerative poultry in each state and make recommendations for needed changes.
To evaluate project outcomes, we will track the number of attendees at learning circles and affinity groups, and collect post-event surveys. In the interviews and focus groups, we will explore the impact of the learning circles and affinity groups and ask questions to evaluate the implementation and success of this project, including the usefulness of the policies and programs database.