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Legislative Update

written by

Ben Simmons

posted on

February 25, 2017

We continue to accept deposits for pigs that will go to slaughter by mid-March. We have a few left so if you are looking for “second to none” pork be sure to get your deposit in today.

Have you reserved your fresh chicken yet? All you need to do is let me know how many you want per batch. The first batch will be available April 22 and then every 4-weeks thereafter.

Steers are enjoying their diverse forage pastures and are growing just fine. We are taking deposits for Beef Half – Custom Processed. Just like pork, buying a half where you choose the processing is the “best value” for your food dollar.

Processing – unless you specify otherwise, all processing will be done by Attala Frozen Foods and packaged in BPA free vacuum sealed packaging.

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Beth & I visited the State Capital on Feb 16th as part of the MS Sustainable Agriculture Network (MSAN) Farmer Drive-In. The purpose was to provide farmers an opportunity to share concerns with both Senators & Representatives.

This is the first time either of us have ever done anything like this – but, we have come to realize that we must engage our lawmakers with the issues if we expect to have an opportunity to improve things.

There is no doubt that in MS the focus is only on BIG AG! Reports from the AG Commissioner’s department and organizations like Farm Bureau are only about BIG AG. Nowhere other than MSAN is there an advocate for the small family farm direct marketers.

We were pleased to have the opportunity to speak with a total of seven Senator’s & Representatives. Issues covered include: on-farm poultry processing, how the farmers percentage of food dollars at retail has declined for 57 years, lack of support for small farms/ direct marketing, shared how small farms in other states are thriving with NC, IN, VA as good examples. How WY passed their 2015 Food Freedom Act and since then has not had any of health issues critics expected or predicted (that is a big point from the AG Commissioner’s office). And, the #1 risk to our farm’s future is lack of slaughter/ processing.

We additionally discussed the issue of insurance and that MS must stop enabling people who drive without insurance from suing folks with insurance – and pass a bill similar to LA. My conversation with the Chairman of the Insurance Committee told me the issue preventing change was all the lawyers (reps & senators) who are protecting their income and or income of their lawyer friends.

Senator Hudson, Chairman of the Senate Ag Committee is my Senator. I was encouraged when he called me Monday morning to set up a meeting after this legislative session is over to work on bills to be presented during the 2018 Legislative Session. This is good news.

Lastly, Beth was interviewed by MS Today. Here is that portion of the report.

“Beth Simmons, who co-owns Nature’s Gourmet Farm in Petal with her husband, said she believes agriculture regulations in Mississippi tend to favor industrial farms over smaller, sustainable farms like hers.

“We do pastured chicken,” Simmons said. “The current law only allows us to (process) 1,000 chickens (a year.) Anything over that you have to take them to a USDA facility, of which we are sorely lacking in the state. I don’t think any of them do chicken. Some people are driving them up to Tennessee, or way over to Alabama. Even if they just raise the limit. One thousand chickens is not very much. We do about 125 (each month) eight months out of the year.”

Simmons’ farm specializes in grass-fed beef and pastured chicken and pork. She said small farmers in the state need a lot of help since some regulations can be burdensome for smaller farms like theirs.”

As always, we thank you for your support of our farm.

More from the blog

Farm Visitors

Since we started selling via our online store in 2016, the number of visitors to our farm increased. Then, building the on-farm USDA poultry plant in 2019 spurred a lot of interest from folks who were interested in raising pastured poultry and were looking for a way around the MS Department of Ag regulation limiting the number of chickens per farm to only 1,000 per year. Most of the folks visiting were potential customers looking for naturally raised meats to feed their families.

Farmer Musings!

Beth & I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving - and turkey if you purchased one our our pastured turkeys. For our family the turkey did not disappoint. I spatchcocked (removed the backbone) so the turkey would lay flat. Beth then brined it for a day before smoking. It turned out tasty and juicy. Before our Thanksgiving meal each of us shared something we were thankful for. Beth's sister Debra shared the following:

A Day Processing Ground Beef!

Overall rain this week on our farm was about ONE inch! Not a lot in the big scheme of things, but very appreciated. It was enough to make a difference for our winter grass as you can see from this picture. In some areas of other pastures it appears that the seedlings died after germinating back in October. An observation that the heavy dews was not enough to keep them alive.