Some farmers are making a financial and ethical transition in the current economy that can be neatly summed up as going from hens to hemp.
The Transfarmation Project, an initiative from the advocacy group Mercy For Animals, helps businesses move away from raising chickens for slaughter to growing crops like industrial hemp instead.
For 30 years, the Halley family raised chickens in 12 factory-style sheds at their farm. But with support from Mercy For Animals' Transfarmation project, they've made a successful shift to growing hemp!🌱https://t.co/4EDhbKUYXF
— Mercy For Animals (@MercyForAnimals) October 9, 2021
Mercy For Animals—which has also conducted numerous investigations into the agro-industrial complex and released footage of certain businesses in an effort to expose cruelty toward animals—has shared several recent stories of farmers who’ve made the transition to cannabis.
Take the Halley Farm in Texas, for example. For 30 years, the operation “raised six flocks of chickens a year—192,000 birds per batch,” the group said. But with support from the animal activists, the family operation switched over to hemp and recently completed its first harvest.
"We decided that we would […] go from killing animals to growing something, from destroying things to creating things."
With help from Mercy For Animals' Transfarmation Project, the Halley family transitioned away from raising chickens to growing hemp 🌱https://t.co/cmIxxcsK7v
— Mercy For Animals (@MercyForAnimals) October 5, 2021
“Growing something just changes your heart, compared to killing something,” Evan Penhasi, a hemp farmer who aided Halley Farm’s transition from growing birds to growing buds. “And this whole process has transformed a family that really I think was in despair for a very, very, very long time and has transformed it into something now that is thriving and is connected and close.”
“We decided that we would grow hemp and go from killing animals to growing something, from destroying things to creating things.”
“This is the very first successful transfarmation,” Mercy For Animals President Leah Garcés said in a blog post late last month. “There are 12 chicken houses, and they used to house tens of thousands of suffering animals, and now they are going to dry hemp. That is just so beautiful, to see the transformation, the possibilities that can come when people come together and try to find solutions.”
“I am going to work hard to make the chicken houses turn into something that [farmers] can make money off of, that can sustain the land and their families,” she said. “It is such a moment of creation and growth rather than destruction and death. And I just want to be a part of that.”
The group highlighted another transfarmation story where a West Virginia a farmer who previously packed about 45,000 chickens into a warehouse now grows industrial hemp in the same space. Mike Weaver, the business owner, said he was partly inspired to move to cannabis after seeing how it helped a friend with cancer symptoms.
Weaver said that not only is his new hemp business more ethical and better for the environment, but is also much more profitable than his prior chicken slaughtering operation. Next, he plans to make a line of CBD products for pets.
“More and more farmers are seeking a way out of animal farming. Whether they’re fed up with Big Ag’s exploitative contracts or the poor working conditions, they’ve had enough,” Mercy For Animals said. “At the same time, demand for plant-based ingredients is booming, estimated to grow from $8 trillion USD in 2018 to $13 trillion USD in 2025.”
“Credited for this growth is increased demand for clean label ingredients and alternatives to conventional animal products,” the organization said. “Companies in all sectors, from food to household detergents to construction, are sourcing more plant-forward ingredients to fulfill their social responsibilities. Transfarmation connects these trends to the goals of fed-up animal farmers to create a better world for us all.”