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Farm Updates & News

written by

Ben Simmons

posted on

February 16, 2019

Product Update –

1) Chicken - Next whole chickens will be April 26, 2019 (our 1st batch of chicks arrive Feb 28th)!

2) Beef - The 4- Custom Halves added to inventory last week sold out in about 3-hours. No worries - we will have more available monthly. Loin Tip & Rump Roast continue to be on sale - we are out of stock on many items and are trying to ease the burden with sales on some in-stock items.

3) Pork - There are 2 of 8 Custom Pork halves available. These will go for processing March 18th. There has been a lot of interest so I would suggest you order soon. Please limit your order to 1-half. We will have plenty of pork available starting in July.

4) Eggs - Egg production has picked up a good bit and many of the new hens are now laying mediums and large eggs. We have eggs for farm pickup and should have plenty of eggs for the March delivery.

Farm Updates! - You may have noticed feed bins in the background of last weeks picture of the steers. Friday, we completed 1 of 2 major projects at the farm by installing bulk feed bins. We decided to collaborate with Resaca Sun Feeds to become a distribution feed hub for four of their feeds - Layer, Swine, Chick Starter, and Broiler Grower. All feeds are NON-GMO Project Verified! For most farms who want to raise and direct market pasture raised products soon find the number one barrier to entry is the cost of feed including transportation. Bulk deliveries helps solve this problem.

Additionally, Resaca Sun has a strong commitment to support small direct market farms. They are actively engaged in growing quality feedstock and support our industry through the American Pastured Poultry Producers Association. We are proud to have Resaca Sun as our quality feed source and appreciate their hard work to support small farms.

I also completed another major farm project this week. Hem Branch runs through most of my pastures. When we cleared land back in 2010 we left trees on either side of the branch for shade and wildlife. Never would I have imagined the erosion cows cause when they constantly cross - you know, the grass is always greener.... Anyway, this week I was able complete the installation of a high-tensile electric fence along one side of the branch and will hopefully complete the other side later this Spring. The distance is 5,412 feet. The wet weather posed many challenges during construction which caused me to walk the total length a minimum of 10 times round trip. That's about 108,240 feet.

Meanwhile, AcresUSA Magazine reported the news across farm country is varied and upsetting. Farm bankruptcies have surpassed Great Recession levels in the Upper Midwest. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis found 84 farms filed for Chapter 12 bankruptcy from June 2017 to June 2018.

Dr. Allen Williams wrote an article in Graze magazine this week titled, "The Monster we must confront". It is a story about farmer suicides! The U.S. CDC says the farmer suicide rate is the fourth highest of any profession, approaching that of active military and veterans. Why is this happening? Allen offers two reasons. First, according to USDA, net farm income has dropped steadily since 2013, (it actually goes back 60+ years when farmer income was >40% of food dollars spent at retail. The last I saw reported was <15%) and is predicted to drop even further in 2019. "In talking with ag lenders across the country, I have been told that as many as 60% of farms are in danger of not having their operational loans renewed for 2019. That is an alarmingly high and would cripple U.S. agriculture" states Williams.

Secondly, is peer pressure plays a huge role in depression among farmers and often is a roadblock that keeps them from seeking change vs. following the industrial ag model which is a downward spiral.

Why has income declined? Mostly because of the laws & regulations proposed by lobbyist like the MS Poultry Lobby that supports the big chicken processors like Tyson & Sanderson Farm.

The Wendell Berry documentary titled "Look and See" does an excellent job describing the problem as well as how we got to this point. It's a rainy day so let me encourage you to take the time to watch it - it is free on Netflix.

We need more local direct market farms that are committed to improving soil health, animal welfare, and providing nutrient rich "real farm food" to their local communities. Weekly we have someone call and or come by that is interested in how we farm - and we try to help and encourage them. Setting up a feed distribution hub is a key step.

How consumers choose to spend their food dollar also makes a big difference.

Customer Feedback- "Wonderful, local farm that prides itself on not just great tasting meat but a dedication to sustainable practices - better for our bodies & our environment." J Sheridan

Quote Worth Re-Quoting – "We cannot live harmlessly at our own expense; we depend on other creatures and survive by their deaths. To live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. The point is, when we do this knowingly, lovingly, skillfully, reverently, it is a sacrament; when we do it ignorantly, greedily, clumsily, destructively, it is a desecration... in such desecration, we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want." ~Wendell Berry

Thank you for supporting our regenerative, local farm.
Ben & Beth

More from the blog

Are Foreign Imports "Local"?

It may surprise you that I do receive AND read several weekly newsletters from other farms that I know and trust. Last week, Paul Brown who owns Nourished By Nature in Bismark, ND (son of Gabe Brown) wrote a really good article on import beef and he agreed to let me share with my customers. So, here goes! If you recall, the last newsletter we sent out referred to the statistic that today, only 2% of the population in the US produces food for the entire country (plus imports) as compared to 17% in 1940. This is unprecedented and it makes me wonder, what happened over the last 80 years? And where will we be in another 80? No wait, how about 10 years??? Will all US food production be outsourced?

Product Updates & More

First, a quick followup from last week's email where I shared my letter to Sec. Watson. This generated a lot of interest and response from our customers - ALL very positive and thankful for us taking the stand we do. Several customers also shared that they were personal friends with Sec. Watson and would contact him regarding our farm. So far, I have not heard from him. Cindy shared the following: Thank you for speaking out about issues that many of us are very upset about and feel like we have no voice. Hopefully, Secretary Watson will actually do something. In my opinion, Farm Bureau is against most Mississippians. They were against the illegal land sales to the Chinese and other foreign countries who want to harm us. I was at the meeting at the Capitol a few months ago and saw it firsthand. They are against any legislation to protect pets, such as dogs and cats, from animal abusers, in addition to the chicken and dairy issues you mentioned above. I am no fan at all of Farm Bureau. They are a detriment to our state. But they have a powerful lobby and lots of friends in influential places . And lots of farmers, big farmers, are fans. I have always been a fan of ag commissioner Gipson and I expect he will run for governor one day. I’m not sure if it’s a political play, but it seems that he is quiet on most of these issues. One exception is the Land deals, because he did chair those groups and hold the hearings.

Letter To Sec. Watson MS Secretary of State

This week I received an email from Sec. Watson regarding his offices' plan and successes in eliminating administrative and MS Code bottlenecks that hold back business growth. He also asked for input on areas that affect our business. Have you ever heard the saying, "Be Careful What You Ask For?" Well, here is my response to Sec. Watson. I'm still waiting to hear back from him - which I truly hope will happen. Sec. Watson, first let me thank you for aggressively tackling these tough issues. Too many politicians today are mere pawns of