The Biodynamic Association has received a grant from RSF Social Finance to help develop a new type of consumers’ association designed to purchase and hold agricultural assets in order to support family farmers and protect consumer rights. The BDA will pilot the effort in Wisconsin and then look to share lessons from its use in other states.
Currently, most cooperative consumer efforts take place either through an informal association, as is currently done through a CSA, or through a consumer-owned food co-op or buying club, which are two steps away from the actual farmers. In this new type of consumers’ association, however, consumers will actually invest in and hold agricultural assets in order to help farmers be economically viable, increase access to healthy food, and protect their rights to consume the foods of their choice.
According to Robert Karp, Executive Director of the Biodynamic Association, "These new types of consumers' associations represent the next logical step in the development of local and regional food systems. Imagine for example, a future CSA in which the members actually buy and own the farmland on which the CSA operates, in order to allow the founding farmer to retire and a new farmer to take over. Imagine a beginning farmer capitalizing the start-up of his or her entire operation through the sale to consumers of ownership units in an LLC. Imagine a consumer association that holds assets in dozens of farms around a large city and uses their ownership to insure good stewardship, land preservation, fair prices to the farmers, and a safe, steady supply of food to its members. The potential impact of these new associations is significant."