Massena Farms: Business Model and Practices

We are working with urban and rural communities, economic development agencies and institutions to develop new producer controlled marketing, processing and distribution systems for locally grown organic and natural foods. Our goal is to compete on price and quality with natural and organic foods that are imported into Omaha, Council Bluffs and Lincoln. We would appreciate an opportunity to introduce ourselves and talk with you about sustainable business practices, including:

• Fair wages and safe working conditions for field and packinghouse workers
• Humane treatment of animals
• Competitive returns to investors and land owners
• Efficient production and processing
• Effective soil, water and wildlife management

Please read on, and then contact me, Jim Steffen, to arrange an interesting and informative program for your investment group, school, civic group or church. My telephone number is 402-317-2639 and my e-mail is jim@massenafarms.com. Our consumer website can be found at www.MassenaFarms.com.

Building Toward Retail Partnerships

We will start with basic CSA (community supported agriculture) programs for meat and vegetables. As our capacity increases, we will negotiate supply contracts with selected Omaha area food retailers. Massena Farms will coordinate marketing, production, processing and distribution so that our retail partners can offer our branded natural and organic meat, poultry and vegetables at competitive prices.

Sustainable versus Conventional Agriculture

The sustainability of our foods systems ultimately depends on soil building programs and crop rotations that are organized around livestock, dairy and poultry production. But unlike conventional agriculture, these new food systems will minimize the use of feed grains, petroleum and irrigation, and they will include crop rotations that are tied to intensively managed grazing programs. While these changes are underway, our diets will also change. Meat, poultry and dairy consumption will decline over time in favor of seasonal vegetables and fruits that are supplemented with high protein grains and beans that are grown with far less, or even no petroleum based herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers and fungicides.

Although confining animals and plowing up pastures, prairies and meadows to raise feed grains were once thought to be economically efficient, these practices have slowly reduced soil fertility and raised major food security questions. Further, continuous cropping and large scale confinement feeding have also hurt water quality and severely reduced wildlife habitat while promoting economic concentration that depends, at least in part, on inhumane treatment of animals and low food industry wages. These practices contribute to urban and rural poverty, food deserts and related health issues.

About Farm Profits

Woody Tasch, in his Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money (Chelsea Green), offers a set of essays on money, food and soil that contrasts the effects of unbridled economic power with the potential benefits of food cultures organized along the lines suggested by E.F. Shumacher and Wendell Berry.

 Bob Steffen, circa 1975

The ideas offered on this website will help expose these authors to a wider consumer audience by building on the work of other sustainable farming advocates, including my late father Bob Steffen, shown above. He was the farm manager for Father Flanagan at Boys Town for thirty years and a leader in developing large scale natural and organic farming methods for the Midwest. Our challenge now is to find the economies of scale that lie between Small is Beautiful and the realities of the established food system – all without ignoring the real needs of land, labor, capital and management.

Please contact me, Jim Steffen, at jim@massenafarmsc.com or 402-317-2639 to learn more about sustainable food systems.

Thank you.

Note: The pictures on this page are courtesy of the Boys Town Hall of History.

Updated 04-13-14