Craig Watts, Field Operations Director
July 26, 2021
Golden, CO – Socially Responsible Agriculture Project (SRAP) is pleased to announce the addition of Karen “Susie” Crutchfield and Michael Diaz to its Field Operations Team. Diaz and Crutchfield will serve as Regional Representatives through SRAP’s newly launched Contract Grower Transition Program, generously funded by American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA).
For more than 20 years, SRAP has served as a mobilizing force to empower communities to protect themselves from the damages caused by industrial livestock operations and to advocate for a food system built on regenerative practices, justice, democracy, and resilience. Our team includes leading technical experts, independent family farmers, and rural residents who have faced the direct threats of factory farms in their communities. We have found that there is no better advocate and/or organizer to engage rural communities facing threats of incoming or expanding industrial livestock facilities than the people who have worked within — or who, too, were harmed by — the industrial livestock system.
This transition program will allow SRAP to further transform rural communities, as well as the contract growers and producers struggling within the industrial agriculture system. SRAP will find, train, and engage contract growers and conventional livestock and dairy producers to leave the industrial agriculture system behind in trade for working with the communities most impacted by this harmful form of agriculture. Through this program, SRAP can simultaneously reduce the numbers of contract growers indentured by the corporate agriculture system, while training and empowering them to advocate for a just, resilient, and regenerative animal agriculture system that focuses on community, environmental and climate health, and animal welfare.
Crutchfield and her husband, Mitchell, were contract growers for Tyson for 25 years, until the demands of the poultry integrator pushed them out of business in 2012, when they were forced to file for bankruptcy. Crutchfield grew up in a farm family and currently owns Granny Creek Farm with Mitchell in Arkansas. The couple sells timber and hopes to add cattle to their operation soon.
“Industrial agriculture has done us a lot of harm. Mitchell and I know what it’s like to have our lives devastated by the corporate food system. But farmers and communities have options. By standing up for ourselves, we can make a difference. I want to use my experience to motivate people to find their power. SRAP has been helping communities to be powerful for a long time and I am glad to have the opportunity to be a part of that,” Crutchfield says.
Diaz was a contract grower for big poultry integrators Pilgrim’s Pride and Amicks.
“I know from personal experience how farmers are trapped by the industrial agricultural system. Communities are forced to endure a lot of harm just so big corporations can make profits. None of this is okay – families are affected and lives are ruined, whether it is contract growers or rural communities. There is a need for all of us to come together and advocate for socially responsible agriculture. SRAP has a great system of providing support and I am glad to be a part of that. The Contract Grower program just adds to that portfolio. This is an important step that will help us move towards a better and safer food future,” says Diaz.
Also a high school teacher, Diaz is an able and experienced educator and is passionate about the fight for change in an industry controlled by giants. Diaz lives with his wife, Jean-Nichole, and their four boys in South Carolina.
Regional representatives like Crutchfield, Diaz, and Field Operations Director Craig Watts—a former contract grower himself and renowned whistleblower—will provide outreach to grower groups and organizations to expand the Contract Grower Transition Program. SRAP also will work to support Mercy for Animals’ (MFA) Transfarmation project, which assists growers in transitioning out of the industrial food animal system.