In our last episode, we spoke with serial entrepreneur Chris Baggott about Tyner Pond, the AGA-certified farm he runs with his wife Amy, and how it relates to their vertically integrated restaurants. The second part of our conversation focuses on a related but entirely different part of Chris’ business, as well as his views on the future of food distribution.
As I mentioned in the last episode, Chris helped found two technology companies that were sold to Salesforce and Oracle respectively. His experience in tech and his passion for food led him to start ClusterTruck, an algorithmically-driven prepared food delivery company that takes orders exclusively online and times the preparation of different dishes in each order so that everything is ready as soon as a delivery person returns to the kitchen.
The world has changed a lot since we had this conversation, but not so much that it isn’t worth sharing.
AGA’s members are spread out across the country, manage tens to tens of thousands of acres, and structure their businesses many different ways. So you’ve been affected differently by the spread of coronavirus and state and federal responses to it.
Because no single solution fits all of you, we are gathering whatever resources we find here. This post will be updated.
On March 9, USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced the availability of $27 million in grant money for direct-to-consumer projects from two sub-programs: Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program and Local Food Promotion Program. If you have a go-to-market plan that will help you survive and thrive, apply now. The deadline for both categories has been extended to May 26. Learn more here.
Polk County, IA
Washington, D.C. metro area
Loudon & Henrico County, VA
Fulton & Newton Counties, GA
Suffolk County, MA
Cook County, IL
Dallas, Tarrant & Travis & Counties, TX
Wayne County, MI
Utah County, UT
Rutherford County, NC
Madison County, AL
Valencia County, NM
Miami-Dade County, FL
Franklin County, OH
Los Angeles metro area
New York City metro area
Sarpy County, NE
Allegheny County, PA
Crook County, OR
San Francisco Bay Area
On March 26, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) responded to a petition filed by the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and American Grassfed Association (AGA) regarding truth in labeling of imported meat.
The OCM and AGA petition, filed in June 2018, called for FSIS to ensure only domestic meat products can be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” The current policy allows imported meat to bear the “Product of U.S.A.” label if it simply passes through a USDA-inspected plant, allowing foreign profiteers to mislabel meat products and plunder the profits of U.S. farmers and ranchers at the expense of U.S. consumers.
In today’s response, FSIS indicated it has decided to initiate rulemaking to define the conditions under which the labeling of meat products would be permitted to bear voluntary statements that indicate that the product is of U.S. origin, such as “Product of USA” or “Made in the USA.”
AGA Executive Director Carrie Balkcom said, “The members and supporters of American Grassfed will aggressively participate in the comment period when this rulemaking process opens. We ask that the comment period be sooner rather than later to allow American farmers to continue to Make America Great, per the mantra of our executive branch and its appointees. For the USDA to continue to allow foreign products to be labeled ‘Product of U.S.A.’ continues to penalize American family farms and farmers.”
OCM Executive Director Angela Huffman said, “Far too often, global monopolies control our regulatory system and almost guarantee the biggest cheaters win. We are encouraged that FSIS agrees with our concerns that the current ‘Product of U.S.A.’ labeling system causes confusion for consumers and takes money out of the pockets of the farmer. We want to thank FSIS for opening up the rulemaking process to right this wrong. Farmers, ranchers and consumers deserve fair and transparent markets.”
“After careful consideration of your petition and the 2,593 public comments submitted to regulations.gov in response to your petition, FSIS has concluded that its current labeling policy, which permits meat and poultry products that were derived from animals that may have been born, raised and slaughtered in another country but processed in the United States to be labeled as “Product of USA,” may be causing confusion in the marketplace, particularly with respect to certain imported meat products.”
Following the repeal of mandatory Country of Origin Labeling in 2015, global meatpacking corporations began abusing the voluntary “Product of U.S.A.” label by misbranding meat and meat products from foreign countries as “Product of U.S.A.” after moving them through USDA-inspected processing plants. OCM and AGA continue to call on Congress and the Administration to reinstate mandatory Country of Origin Labeling.
Like a lot of people, Chris Baggott‘s views on food and agriculture were upended by the writings of Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin. Unlike most people, Chris had already had at least two careers worth of success before he launched Tyner Pond Farm with his wife, Amy.
His first entrepreneurial venture was a small chain of dry cleaners, where he learned the value of email marketing. In the late 90s. After closing the dry cleaning business, Chris co-founded an email marketing platform called ExactTarget.
He left ExactTarget in the mid 2000s to co-found another company Compendium block where in 2010, Chris and his wife founded Tyner Pond, an AGA and USDA Organic certified farm about 20 miles east of Indianapolis, Indiana.
In 2013, ExactTarget and Compendium were both purchased by Salesforce and Oracle respectively. Those exit events were not an excuse for the Baggotts to slow down. In fact, they’re probably busier than ever.
This new documentary short by Natural Grocers is an great 25 minute introduction to regenerative agriculture.
“Finding a solution to combat climate change must include a change in our conventional agricultural system from one that depletes our soil to one that regenerates it. We must move away from our current soil-eroding, industrial farming practices, and, instead, return the animals to the land in a managed way to improve soil health and sequester CO2. Dig into the research and the collective consciousness behind a unique group of ranchers that make up the resilient, regenerative, renegade way at Thousand Hills. By working with nature and not against it, they have found a renewed joy in farming and a method that renews the land and our planet’s health. Regenerative Renegades gives us a clear choice when choosing beef—through our consumer dollars, we can choose to continue down the path of depletion, or we can support agriculture that regenerates the land, combats climate change, and improves our economic vitality.”