A Precious Few
Last weeks newsletter about the young couple in North AL who decided to quit farming after 6-years sparked a higher than usual read rate as well as email comments back to me.
Kate, a Gulfport customer, had this to say;
Pardon me, I hit reply all as we need to build community around our regenerative farmers!
I believe the fake meat movement will bring customers running to your farm….
Your delivery service is quite a plus…I hope it brings you joy to meet your customers.
I am in for the long haul, but I am a one person family and a raw meat dog so we stock up every month and have plenty.
By the way, do you know how fresh organ meats fed raw to your animals can bring their health to a new level?
Your fresh heart and liver is always a welcome treat for them…my dog is currently 16 and still going…
I always share about your farm, your website and how satisfying it is to know where our meat is coming from.
People take time to change their habits of convenience, but change they will….
And I actually find it more convenient to buy meat from your farm than the grocery.
It lasts longer in the fridge too as it is fresh.
Thanks for all you do to provide this service. You are appreciated.
Love your emails also….."
We really appreciate customer feedback as well as those who choose to be engaged with what we do. I could not agree more with Kate's comments.
A Precious Few! According to research by Seven Sons in Indiana the most customers a local farm can expect to reach is one-tenth of one percent. Here is how the math works out.
Within a 125 mile radius of our farm there are 4.8 million people. One-tenth of one percent equals 4800 people who may activity choose to shop from a local farm.
And there is no way our farm can service that many people. For example, according to the USDA the per person consumption of chicken is 92 pounds per year. That equals 441,600 pounds. Our farm currently raises about 21,375 pounds per year or less than 5%.
That is why we encourage local farms and try to help them where we can. The solution is NOT bigger and bigger farms BUT IS more and more small local farms regenerating and caring for the land and animals that they then sell directly to customers in their local communities.
I listened to a podcast this week over lunch from Greg Guntrump who also quit raising pastured chickens this year after more than 30 years in the business. During this time he had worked his way up to the second largest pastured chicken producer in the United States. The #1 reason he quit was "Greenwashing".
He stated that the two biggest challenges facing farming are: 1) consolidation - he was surprised to recently learn that JBS now owns numerous former grass finished beef farms like Grass Run, Simple Truth, and Laura's Lean Beef. 2) concentration - is an ecological disaster (if you doubt that then ask anyone who has had a pig sewer lagoon flood and flow through their home).
Some example's Greg provided are:
- there are more horses in the US than dairy cows. However, many dairies range from 20,000 up to 70,000 cows each
- there are about 300 million hens in the US on 200 farms. Some farms have 12 millions hens
- Pigs... 6-10,000 sows raised on approximately 800 farms supply all the feeder pigs to other farms to grow out for harvest
- 90% of the cattle in the US are finished in about 200 feedlots
This huge concentration of animals in confined feeding operations are not what God intended!
And the concentration of animals in smaller and smaller spaces is a result of corporate consolidations where all this is controlled by a small handful of corporations.
The good news is that YOU have an opportunity to let your voice be heard. Hang with me here - this IS important. Westin A. Price has written the following (better than I can do) that explains how you can help. Don't delay - the deadline is June 21st....
Support local food sources!
Link to share: https://www.westonaprice.org/support-local-food-sources/
When the conventional food system showed its fragility during the COVID shut-downs, local producers kept feeding their communities with high-quality meat, eggs, dairy, and produce. Artisanal small businesses provide fermented foods, kombucha, and many more foods vital for nourishing our communities.
Yet these local farmers and artisanal producers all too often face unnecessary difficulties created by government regulations, policies, and programs.
Now we have a rare opportunity to urge the USDA to change! The disruptions in the food system over the last year have led President Biden to direct the USDA to submit a report that assesses the supply chains for the production of agricultural commodities and food products.
As part of developing that report, the USDA is accepting public comments on “Supply Chains for the Production of Agricultural Commodities and Food Products” until June 21. The agency will also consider the public comments in its decision on how to spend stimulus funds, since it has been directed to increase durability and resilience within the U.S. food supply.
This is an important opportunity to talk about the significance of localized, decentralized food systems – and to give the agency specific action steps that would help move us to those systems!
In writing your comments, please try to include (1) examples of the challenges farmers and other food producers face in raising, processing, and marketing their products; and (2) specific action items that would help small-scale and diversified producers to build resilient, diversified systems.
Note that the USDA cannot change statutory law. So issues such as the requirement that meat be processed in an inspected slaughterhouse are outside the scope of this comment period. But the agency can change its own regulations, policies, and where it directs funding – so there is a lot that it can do to address problems with that meat inspection program, for example.
Topics to consider including in your comments:
1) Meat processing: USDA should take steps to support the continuation and establishment of new small- and mid-sized operations.
a. Share your own story about meat processing. Farmers: Were you able to provide meat during the meatpacker shutdowns last spring? Or have you been unable to because of a lack of processing? Consumers: What did you see during the pandemic? From whom did you get meat?
b. As a small farmer or processor, what changes do you think are needed? Remember to focus on things that are in the regulations and policies, as well as direct relief funding for financial support, not statutory changes that are beyond the agency’s ability to change.
c. Consider expressing support for these policy changes:
i. Revise USDA’s policy governing multiple owners of animals that are processed in custom-exempt slaughterhouses.
The USDA currently requires that the custom slaughterhouse record each owner and do the division of the meat, which makes it impractical for more than 4 people to co-own an animal. But the statute and regulations merely provide that the meat must be for the personal or household use of the owners. If USDA modified its policy, then “animal shares” could be far more flexible, allowing farmers and consumers to agree to use custom processors. In effect, we could implement the Wyoming herd share law without the need for new state statutes if USDA makes a simple policy change.
ii. Reform the scale-prejudicial regulations and policies on small-scale slaughterhouses,
including: (1) prioritize inspector availability for small-scale processors and provide training specific to small-scale processors; (2) revise the pathogen testing and process-control testing to ensure that small plants are tested proportionally to large plants; (3) reduce the difficulty and expense in developing HACCPs by providing model HACCPs, posting applicable peer-reviewed research, and identifying the control points for different types of products.
2) The agency needs to stop adopting regulations and policies that are scale-prejudicial. For example, electronic animal ID is much more expensive for small-scale producers, yet the benefits flow to the large players and exporters.
a. Share your concerns about electronic ID, both its impact on you and on others in the industry. Do you run your animals in pasture conditions where they are more likely to lose tags, increasing the time and monetary expense? Does your local sale barn have infrastructure for running all electronic ID or would it be forced to spend tens of thousands of dollars to install it? Would your veterinarian have to buy new equipment to deal with an electronic system?
3) Other areas of needed infrastructure, whether physical (such as commercial kitchens and storage) or logistical (support for food hubs, farmers markets, etc.): What do you see as needed to build resilient, vibrant local food systems? Again, this can involve changing regulations, policy and guidance documents, or providing funding through USDA programs.
You can submit your comment online at
As always, we thank you for rewarding our hard work with your trust and support.