Now in its 60th year, ground-breaking Grant Family Farms in great peril
“Northern Colorado’s Grant Family Farms files for Chapter 7 bankruptcy,” a headline in today’s Denver Post, hit like a dagger. “Grant Family Farms closes, files for bankruptcy,” was a headline in yesterday’s Coloradoan, the Fort Collins paper that I don’t regularly read but looked at with bated breath after I read the Post piece. Both papers reported essentially the same sad story.
Established in 1953, Grant Family Farms was Colorado’s first to be a Certified Organic grower and with some 4,500 CSA members, is one of the country’s large Community Supported Agriculture growers. It pioneered not only CSA agriculture, in sustainable practices and in a commitment to heritage produce and farmyard animals reportedly filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy on December 28. Drought, unpredictable economic circumstances and in my opinion, government policies that favor corporate agriculture over family farms. Whether or not the 2,000-acre farm near Wellington between Fort Collins and the Wyoming state line will be able emerge from bankruptcy is still and open question, but its 4,500 CSA share holders and other customers in uneasy suspense.
“The farm covers more than 2,000 acres near Wellington and was started in 1953 by Lewis Grant — a former professor at Colorado State University. He and his son, Andy, worked throughout the 1960s growing vegetables and expanding the operation from the ground up. Land that was previously used for livestock was transformed into vegetable fields that supply produce to restaurants, stores and consumers across Colorado,” the Post reported.
According to the Coloradoan,
“When the farm closed last month, it laid off more than 50 employees, [Andy] Grant said.
“Meg Bucklin, Grant’s CSA membership coordinator, confirmed Saturday afternoon that the farm shut down all operations under the Chapter 7 filing, which requires the company to liquidate to settle its debts.
“Bucklin said the farm’s CSA had around 4,500 members, the largest CSA in the country. She added that the business is hopeful that the CSA will resume sometime this year.
“The farm has been struggling financially for several years due to ineligibility for crop insurance and crop damage caused by hail storms and drought, according to the news release, which also stated that a spinach recall compounded the farm’s financial situation, leading to the bankruptcy filing.”
A couple of summers ago, my husband and I drove up to Wellington for an enchanting summer evening First we wandered around the farm before sitting down at a long table for a “fest in the field.” It makes me sad to think that all this might me gone. I wonder what will happen to this beautiful farmland, but I wonder what will become of the lambs and goats and pigs and chickens and ducks and geese, all humanely raised and well cared-for? It’s not planting or harvest season right now, but animals need attention, and the workers need no to be left drifting.
The possibility of soaring milk prices made the news as the nation approached the fiscal cliff just last week. The Miami Herald reported:
“As part of the fiscal cliff package that passed earlier this week, Congress and the White House cobbled together an extension of the nation’s massive farm bill that keeps many – but not all – of the country’s agricultural and food programs sputtering along until September.
“But just about everyone hates it. That includes farmers, produce trade organizations, groups that address hunger, dairy farmers, fiscal hawks and environmentalists – all have concerns with the way the bill was shoved awkwardly into the overall fiscal cliff compromise.
“The Center for Rural Affairs, based in Nebraska, called it ‘a disaster.’ The extension’”slashes investment in the future of small rural communities and family farmers and ranching,’ warned Chuck Hassebrook, the center’s executive director. . . .“‘The bill also neglected to include disaster assistance in a year of drought,’ said Ferd Hoefner of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. The compromise lacked continued funding for some innovative programs his group supports, such as promoting farmers markets, assisting new and minority farmers, and research into specialty crops and organic crops, he said.”