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Small-scale family farmers and ranchers join forces to create new brand

The Beneficial Farm and Ranch Collaborative (BFRC) is a trade association made up of family farmers and ranchers, retail stores, and individuals in Colorado and New Mexico. The Collaborative formed in the wake of frustration with the National Organic Standards program and the desire to define, practice and brand a uniquely western form of chemical-free agriculture with a strong emphasis on soil nutrition and balancing.

Participating farms and ranches are small, family operations located in the Arkansas, Rio Grande and Colorado River watersheds of New ~Mexico and Colorado. Beneficial producers are licensed by the BFRC, and function as independent businesses.

Licensure involves the submission and review of three documents: a farm improvement plan, customer assurance affidavit, and licensing agreement. Products are raised for select independent stores in Colorado Springs, Santa Fe and Albuquerque. The partnering stores and producers each contribute to the administration of licensing and promotion through contributing a percentage of their sales back to the project.

Farm improvement standards & environmental stewardship

Soils are the foundation of the Beneficial program. Conventional and even organic farms many times, treat soils as merely a physical support structure for their crops while Beneficial farmers take a more holistic approach. Beneficial farmers understand that superior nutrition in crops and livestock results from abundant, diverse microbial life and nutrient balances, achieved only through careful observation, soil sampling, conservation tillage techniques, and good irrigation management.

The practices and standards that Beneficial producers employ are detailed in a “Beneficial Farm Improvement Standards” document. Associated with this document are a “Farm Improvement Plan” and “Customer Assurance Affidavit” which are updated and submitted on an annual basis.

Health, nutrition, flavor and freshness

Beneficial farmers and ranchers understand that their local communities’ health and wellness starts from the ground up. The Beneficial label guarantees the freshest, chemical-free food grown and raised in the local region. BFRC believes Beneficial food may be more nutritious and flavorful than most of the standard organic fare shipped in from California. This is because Beneficial producers typically harvest their crops ripe, when phyto-nutrients are most highly developed, and deliver within twenty-four hours.

Livestock is raised humanely with high quality feed and no hormones or antibiotics. This, in combination with active attention to continual soil improvement, guarantees that customers receive premium, healthful products and that the land in the producer’s care is sustained for future generations.

Local economies

Suburban development in Colorado and New Mexico has marginalized independent farmers, ranches, and retail stores. Independent retail stores in Colorado Springs, Santa Fe, and Albuquerque (along with select farmers markets), that share a philosophy of supporting the well-being of the communities they serve with their local farmers, are the exclusive locations where Beneficial products can be found.

By selling Beneficial products, these stores provide the most healthful food available while simultaneously supporting the local agricultural community. Individual consumers who buy food at these locations are supporting independent business as well as the health and wellness of their own families. For this reason BFRC thinks of consumers as “co-producers”.

A central aspect of the BFRC program is that both producers and stores contribute a percentage of sales to sustain the program. This self-funding approach is another example of the group’s commitment to sustainability and continual improvement, but it all begins with the co-producers through the purchase of Beneficial products.

For more information visit the BFRC website at www.beneficialfoods.org or contact Steve Warshawer at 505-422-2238.