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The Giving Farm

By   /  December 10, 2018  /  4 Comments

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In 1971, I was a confused eight year old who cried in horror as men lashed my grandfather William’
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About the author

contributor

Troy Bishopp, aka “The Grass Whisperer” is a seasoned grazier and grasslands advocate who owns, manages and linger-grazes at Bishopp Family Farm in Deansboro, NY with his understanding wife, daughters, grandchildren and parents. Their certified organic custom grazing operation raise dairy heifers, grass-finished beef and backgrounds feeder cattle on 180 acres of owned and leased pastures. Troy also mentors farmers on holistic land management for the Madison County Soil and Water Conservation District and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition as their regional grazing specialist. This award-winning free-lance writer, essayist and photographer maintains a website presence at www.thegrasswhisperer.com

4 Comments

  1. Jim Hayes says:

    Troy,
    Thanks for the article.
    I am sorry but I couldn’t push the button on the giving tree.I have read the story and it is beautiful but too painful for me to read again.
    I agree with Jim’s comments and my family has moved the farm into the food business.We are also involved in Ag tourisim( something I said I would never do) however our family calls it a consumer education opportunity and I must admit the general consumer knows very little about what we do or what our problems are.Our location makes this an opportunity for us,however, many farms are not close to population centers as we are.
    Ag needs to rethink its objectives.We have been told that we must feed a world with an ever growing population and this is why we must be constantly increasing our production yet we are wasting a great amount of the food we are already producing and putting our planet in peril doing it.Maybe our objective should be what Ag can do to save the planet. We

  2. Judith Falk says:

    It is my strong belief that a cornerstone problem is the lack of respect and understanding that the average person has for the land in general, and in this circumstance, farms in particular. Witness the outrageously high property taxes that farms must pay, leading them to chunk up and sell off portions of their farms just to stave off the end a little longer. Once agricultural land is gone, we will NEVER get it back. We have artificially cheap food in this country, and farmers themselves are being bled to death financially–and once the farmers are gone, we won’t get them back either, certainly not the institutional knowledge that they take with them.

  3. Jim Gerrish says:

    Hi Troy,

    When people ask me why I do what I do, my answer is always the same: So that more kids have the opportunity to enjoy the type of childhood I enjoyed growing up on a working family farm.

    Within the commodity/industrial model, it is increasingly difficult to allow young children to work along side their parents or older siblings. The slim profit margins often prohibit young adults from joining in the family business. It saddens me to see the lack of the next generation being incorporated into the multigenerational family farm or ranch.

    The one bright spot in agriculture that I see is in the local food market. The only happy dairy farmers I meet are the ones who are able to name their price for milk and value-added dairy products in a local market. Unfortunately, their loyal customer base represents a tiny fraction of the entire dairy product consuming population.

    For you and I to see farm families thrive the way we did in our youth, we need to encourage and support more and more farmers to divorce themselves from the ‘industry’ and enter into the food business.

    Jim Gerrish

    • Hi Jim,

      I couldn’t agree more. I run a small herdshare and grassfed beef operation. I see a lot of these articles about how farmers are hurting from things “out of their control”. Another one this week is the “Dairy Crisis Affects Us All” but definitely not limited to just the dairy industry.

      What is in their control is the ability to direct sale and market their story to the public. It’s hard work (working with the public always is) but no harder than not being able to pay the bills. We’re finally turning a profit after 4 years and I’m starting to seriously consider kicking the “off farm” job.

      Once you build meaningful relationships with customers, they happily pay a higher amount for our product. It’s a road less traveled but definitely a more stable one (and enjoyable). What commodity farmer gets Christmas cards from their customers telling them how much they appreciate their quality product and hard work?!

      I encourage other farmers to be evangelists of their product – don’t rely on big ag to sell your product for you, the only thing they’re interested in is profit for themselves.

      PS: Thanks for what you do and your dedication to supplying excellent grazing information. Reading your MiG book was one of the key turning points in how I managed my animals.

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