Restock Dates: Please see our Farm Blog where we post our weekly newsletter for the latest updates

Washington DC Update

written by

Ben Simmons

posted on

March 19, 2017

Product Update –

If you have been putting off ordering your pig – Monday will be the last date to do so. Place your order today. “Ben, your bacon is second to none”! Frank K.

Custom-Processed Half Beef – we are taking deposits to reserve your beef now!

Our first batch of broilers were put on pasture today. Have you reserved your fresh chickens yet? Simply email me at sales@naturesgourmetfarm.com with how many you want per batch. We have about 60 left from this batch.

Washington DC visit – as I’ve communicated, NGF was vetted by National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition to go to DC and speak to Senator Cochran and Representative Palazzo about our farm and the importance of sustainable agriculture programs supported by the Farm Bill. NGF was one of six farms across the nation that were asked to come and speak for sustainable ag.

Specifically I spoke how our farm has benefited from EQIP back in 2009 when we were first getting started as well as several other folks who were able to improve fencing & water projects to help their farms. I took the opportunity to also share how some folks abuse the program and offered solutions to close those gaps – example: why should a millionaire get money to lime his pastures?

I also offered support for the 2501 Veterans Program. Big Ag policies have greatly reduced the number of folks growing our food. The 2501 Program offers incentives to veterans to become farmers after leaving the military. In the past several years I have had 3-4 military folks approach me about their interest in farming after military retirement. At the March pickup in Gulfport a Navy SeeBee expressed interest in opening a meat market – something that is very much needed.

Since I had more time than expected, I came prepared to address several of my “hot” topics to include:

1)   The lack of private label processing in Mississippi and how that limits markets for our products. I made the point that John Tyson could not have operated or grown his business to what it is today if he had to deal with current regulations

2)   That for the past 57 years the farmer has received less and less percent of the retail food dollar – issues described in the book “The Meat Racket”

3)   How current Ag Policies have destroyed rural America and rural Mississippi in particular. In 2016, all Ag commodities produced in MS had a reported value of $7.35 Billion. Yet, we import $8.5 billion in food. There is something wrong with that. In my opinion, MS Depart. of Ag does not support small farms!

So, what were the results? First, I knew when I went to not expect any decisions. Second, the weather was horrible. Major winter storm late Monday into early Tuesday. The House cancelled work for Wednesday thus Palazzo changed his travel plans back to DC which means I missed seeing him. I did have a very informative meeting with his Ag Staffer, Laura Lee from Clinton. Very good dialogue and questions were asked. I have also requested a visit with Congressman Palazzo when he is back in the district as well.

Meet with Senator Cochran and his Ag Staffer Bennett Mize from Tupelo. Senator Cochran has supported both of the Farm Bill topics in the past. As I reviewed my points both he & Bennett offered comments and questions. Again, good dialogue.

Now that I have direct contact via the Ag Staffer’s I will offer to be a resource to them on Ag Policy issues.

Some 1st for me: my Boarding Pass was on my phone, I had my first Uber ride, and obviously meeting with our elected officials to express concerns.

Lastly, it was an honor to represent small farms in MS that are working hard to make a difference by stewarding the land in their care and providing a food product that supports the physical and mental health of MS families.

Farm Business Model –

For about a year now we have operated our online store and since August offered deliveries to five locations. Our objective is to be convenient, simple, and flexible to the needs of our customers while offering locally raised, GMO Free premium quality beef, pork, and chicken.

While our model is new for South Mississippi, it has worked very well in other parts of the country. How about you? Are you supporting your local family farm?

Overheard –

“While people laugh at me because I’m different, I laugh at them because they’re all the same.”

More from the blog

Website Changes Coming

About two months ago Seven Sons announced they had SOLD Grazecart to POS Nation in Charlotte, NC. Our farm was in the top 5 to signup to use Grazecart back in December 2015. Back then it was very hard to set up... you had to work with the IT guy to program your site. Basically, flying by the seat of your pants. I had learned about Seven Sons and Grazecart during my time on the Board of the Grassfed Exchange Conference where Blaine was also on the Board. Additionally, you may remember that when we decided to add hens to our farm Beth & I visited Seven Sons to check out their operation. But, they (and we) perservered and today Grazecart is very functional and easy to "program" using widgets. So, the sale really saddened me because one of the compelling reasons we chose GC was that it was developed by farmers for farmers who market and sell direct to consumers. A little statistic - last year Grazecart supported about 450 farms. Our farm was in the top 25 largest users of Grazecart coming in around 22 or 23 if I remember correctly. There was no reason(s) given for the sale! The next communication came about a month ago stating POS Nation would transition Grazecart Stripe credit card process to POS Nation Stripe - again, no reason given. Farms were instructed to create an account on the new site and be ready for the migration to happen. All of this we have done. We are prepared, but have not yet been migrated. Then, this week several farms who had been migrated expressed disappointing results and lack of visibility on payments, payouts, reporting, etc. on the POS Nation site. I know when I checked my account status I could not log in. It took 4 email conversations over a 12-hour period AND then a couple of phone calls Friday morning before the issue was resolved. Late Friday afternoon the VP of Grazecart (POS Nation) emailed customers that the migration was put on hold until complaints were resolved. Additionally, this week - DRIP that powers our email marketing function communicated that Google & Yahoo email were cracking down on emails like our newsletters that are not delivered into inboxes. There are many reasons for this, but mostly folks are searching the internet and come across our website. They sign up to "check us out", and after awhile, decide to move on. Most never make a purchase. Some will make only one purchase and probably decide this is not what they are used to and fall away. Instead of using the "Unsubscribe" feature found at the bottom of our newsletter, they "Block" our email delivery. These are the ones that Google & Yahoo are after because these go into Spam folders and not inboxes. I am sure this is a big deal for email providers that cost them big money considering the shear volume of emails sent on a daily basis. That said, next week we will "Deactivate" about 288 DRIP accounts from ever receiving any of our emails. Well, enough of that for now! Remember, we showed pictures of the 23 registered Red Angus cows purchased from a ranch in WY? Well, they have started calving. Two of them this week. Here is a picture of the FIRST one. So glad we can celebrate this birth with our customers. At Nature's Gourmet Farm, our intent is to create a community that evolves around one of the most intrinsically important things of the ages, and that’s the provision of sustenance. That's our passion - to raise healthy food to nourish families and strengthen immune systems. If you are new to our farm then maybe you have been looking for premium ALL NATURAL GOODNESS of beef, pork, chicken, and eggs raised on pasture as God intended - with emphasis on Regenerative Principles and NOT conventionally raised animals (with growth hormones, drugs, chemicals, and antibiotics) - and where animals are treated humanely - then you have come to the right farm. Our delivery schedule and product availability are listed below along with order buttons that will take you to our website where you can browse over 90 product choices and place your order from the convenience of your home. It's that simple! ** Product Availability Update ** NOTE: Restocks are made about 6 PM on the dates indicated below! Chicken - Restocked May 8th. next restock will be May 23rd. . Turkey - Only have ground turkey and turkey wings available. Eggs - Restocked each Wednesday. We are well stocked on eggs - especially large at this time. Beef - Restocked April 19th. Next restock will be May 17th. Pork - Restocked fresh cuts Wednesday, May 8th followed by cured items (bacon) about 12 days later. Lamb - April 17th lamb did not work out. They were only 50 lb live weight or about half the weight needed for slaughter.

Updates & Musings From Farmer Ben

Last week I announced that we continue to have strong demand for our half beef custom orders, and that we have scheduled a harvest date for 6 "custom" beef with Homestead Farm & Packing in Lucedale, MS. Here are the key dates: April 27th 6 beef (12 halves) added to our website for orders. First-come, First-served. Customer pays deposit to reserve order. June 1st Cut-sheet due not later than this date. Best practice is to complete within a week of placing order. Cut sheet can be found at this link - scroll to the bottom of the page https://naturesgourmetfarm.com/custom-bulk-orders. June 3rd I will deliver the cows to the plant.

Do You Need A Half Beef? Must Read

Before I get into the main topic, let me share that our new mama cows are going great. They are settling in and now curious when we come around. For example, last Monday Jared picked up a load of chips for our chick brooder bedding and while unloading they eased up to see what we were doing. Very cool! Next, we want everyone to know that we are mostly FULLY STOCKED on beef, pork, eggs, and chicken. Its been a long time since we were last able to communicate that. Exceptions are filet, flank, and hanger steaks. Who bought all of those filets?