In the mid 1980s, a pair of wheat producers, Karl Kupers and Fred Fleming, became convinced that the conventional dryland wheat farming they were practicing was not sustainable in the Palouse region of eastern Washington. They set out to tackle both the agro-ecological challenge of sustainability by reversing soil erosion and soil degradation, and the economic challenge of remaining financially viable without federal commodity subsidies.
In 2003, Shepherd’s Grain sold its first batch of specially blended baking flour to Hot Lips Pizza, a small restaurant chain in Portland, Oregon. This initial sale was the culmination of more than three decades of wheat production experience and a healthy dose of creative thinking.
These publications are part of a series of case studies and Research Briefs examining values-based food supply chains—strategic business alliances formed between primarily midsize farms/ranches and their supply chain partners. Values-based food supply chains distribute significant volumes of high-quality, differentiated food products and share the rewards equitably. Farmers and ranchers function as strategic partners rather than easily replaced input suppliers. All participants in these business alliances recognize that creating maximum value for the product depends on significant interdependence, collaboration and mutual support. These supply chains attach importance to both the values embedded in the production of the food products AND the values that characterize the business relationships.