Our Philosophy

Good farmers, who take seriously their duties as stewards of Creation and of their land’s inheritors, contribute to the welfare of society in more ways than society usually acknowledges, or even knows.

These farmers produce valuable goods, of course; but they also conserve soil, they conserve water, they conserve wildlife, they conserve open space, they conserve scenery.
— Wendell Berry, Bringing it to the Table: Writings on Farming and Food

Who We Are

Farms Not Factories is a grassroots network of communities in the Lake Superior Basin

Lake Superior is now threatened by the first ever proposal to site an industrial farm operation in northern Wisconsin—in the Fish Creek watershed just eight miles upstream from Chequamegon Bay.

Farms Not Factories is a regional response to this threat to Lake Superior and the emerging sustainable agriculture economy of this region.

What We Believe

We believe that the key to protecting the land, water, air and way of life of northern Wisconsin rests in the hands of the people who call northern Wisconsin home.

We believe that civic engagement, local control, environmental stewardship, natural resource conservation and sustainable agriculture are inherently connected and vital to building strong, prosperous rural communities.

We believe a crucial component to building and maintaining strong connections between the people of northern Wisconsin and their land, air and water is a land ethic founded in the following guiding principles:


Recognize the intrinsic values of land.

Farm land, forests, lakes, rivers and wetlands have a range of non-commodity values: long-term health of the soil, wildlife habitat, maintenance of water quality in streams and rivers and the preservation of the rural character of the communities of Northern Wisconsin. Some values of our land are priceless. 

Protect family farms and their economic viability.

Conservation of farm land is important to ensure safe domestic food production, protect wildlife habitat and clean water, maintain open space vistas and safeguard a rural lifestyle. Family farms need clean water, land, and air and support from the local community through direct markets and supportive government policies. Factory farming can significantly reduce water quality, distort local markets for crops and livestock, and introduce damaging disease and pathogens to non-industrialized operations. 

Conserve and restore wildlife habitat and the full array of native species.

A rural landscape can support wildlife habitat where our declining native species may thrive. Loss of wildlife habitat to industrial farming and development is the leading cause of species decline—a more significant cause than climate change.   

Encourage sound rural land management.

Management of our rural lands is a vital issue for the 21st Century. Sustainable agricultural practices nourish the soil, protect water quality (through the control of agricultural pollution), and support ecological systems that play a key role in maintaining natural and agricultural landscapes while ensuring viability of native plant and animal species. Farming which reflects good stewardship needs active support from markets, government, and our communities.

Empower citizens to protect their communities. 

Local communities know best how to protect their local resources, property values, and economy. State and Federal regulations have trended towards support for industrial farming practices at the expense of rural communities and landscapes. This is a decades old paradigm requiring people to engage their governments from local to Federal levels to reclaim our Democracy and protect our communities.

What We Do

We seek to strengthen our rural region by actively engaging with our local and state government, by encouraging our communities and local leaders to balance economic growth with stewardship for our natural resources, and by supporting our local farmers and businesses who are ecologically sound, economically viable and socially responsible.