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Author: Ben Simmons

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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

Chicken, Chicken, Chicken

The "most asked" question from customers is - When Will You Have More Chicken? Well, the weather has been a bit challenging when it comes to raising chickens on pasture. Most recently, we delayed the last batch harvest because at the typical age we harvest they were very small. So, we elected to delay two weeks to give them time to grow to a reasonable market weight. Then, last week the weather was very cold.

"put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is"

"Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is" is a phrase used to show by your actions and not just your words that you support or believe in something. If you watched my video last week you noticed I believe that what we need are thousands more small farms that sell direct to consumers vs. all these mega corporate industrial "farms". Additionally, I believe our position should be to help others by duplicating our success with those who are interested in farming. That is the best solution for Food Security for the ever-growing population of customers seeking healthier food for their families. If you missed the video - here is the link on our YouTube channel. All that to say last summer Dr. Allen Williams asked if we would be interested

December Farm Video Tour

What our country needs are thousands of small family farms serving their communities with healthy food raised naturally and sold locally. Friday, December 15th I meet up with Olivia here on our farm to make a video that she would then share on their YouTube channel. Olivia and her husband Paul once owned a small direct market farm in Indiana...then sold their farm to travel and interview farmers and share their stories. You can watch Olivia and the other farms they have interviewed at this link. So, I decided to make the video to support my belief that what our country needs are

Market Changes

Last week our newsletter was a look back at 2023 here on the farm. It's hard to believe we have been at this since 2010 when we sold our first grass fed beef (notice I did not use the word "finished" because we did not know what that really meant then. All we knew was that Alan Nation said when the steer reached 1000 pounds it was ready for slaughter. haha Those first several years I can truly say were not our best beef for sure. Yet, many folks stuck with us! Supporting and encouraging us.

Year In Review At The Farm

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of 2023!!! Where does time go. Beth suggested I share some of the highlights from our farm for this year - so, here goes. Infrastructure: - Installed 4,950 feet of high tensil net fence along the property line of one of our pastures - Built a pond on the Hamilton property for drainage and backup water option for livestock - Sprayed our first making of compost extract on 300 acres - Purchased a pasture aerator to improve oxygen in soil while also applying compost extract onto 250 acres - Completed Soil Food Web (SFW) Classes

Beef Cuts Update

This week was beef cut & pack week (actually 3 full days of intense work). For the first time on our farm we not only slaughtered beef under USDA inspection, but we also cut & packed under USDA inspection. This is something you have to do in order to sell into a retail outlet. We only sell into ONE retail ourlet and that is Vitamin's Plus in Hattiesburg. The Rayburns have been strong supporters of our farm from the beginning and faithfully stocked their store with our beef, chicken, and eggs. And now that we have our

Wintering Our Cows

There are a lot of books written about how to farm without feeding your cows hay in the winter. I can think of one person who advocates for "kicking the hay habit" who also hays his cows in the winter - he even designed a hay unroller (similar to what we use) to unroll his hay as well as sell to other farmers. I have learned the best approach is to graze your warm season grass as long as possible while planting cool season grass - AND to have enough hay available for at least 90 days. After all, the weather is unpredictable. Like this year, the hot and dry summer through fall period limited both the amount of

Small Farm Republic

Good Morning from your farmer, Hold on as you may find the ride a bit bumpy this morning.... Monday, Stephen, one of our long time customers sent me this podcast - stating that it is a very good listen. After listening to the podcast, I replied to Stephen, "Many thanks for sharing. I will do the same to include Andy Gipson...You may have sensed the urgency in my newsletters of late that folks need to be much less dependent on grocery stores and more dependent on themselves and local farms!" Stephen replied, "Gipson needs to listen and DO SOMETHING. I read Speaker White’s priorities and they are missing the boat, big time. I am sending this stuff to my policy friends. They are obsessed with school choice and lower taxes. Those are good, but not existentially important. Food is #1. Nothing else matters." Frankly, every politician should listen to this podcast and read John Klar's book. Here is what one person had to say about his work: “I have read at least 20 books a year for the past 25 years and Small Farm Republic is absolutely one of the very best that I have ever read. . . A must-read not only for those involved in all facets of agriculture but policymakers and consumers as well.”―Gabe Brown, regenerative rancher, author of Dirt to Soil From farmer, lawyer, and political activist, John Klar comes a bold, solutions-based plan for Conservatives that gets beyond the fatuous pipe dreams and social-justice platitudes of the dominant, Liberal “Green” agenda―offering a healthy way forward for everyone. Regardless of your political beliefs (does not matter) as humans we must eat regularly to sustain life! Here are my three farm/food priority issues: (note that most likely each of these were restricted long before current politicians were in office)  Pastured Poultry - Federal Law as well as Mississippi Law allows a single farm to grow, process, and sell into commerce up to 20,000 chickens per year (without a USDA plant). However, the MS Department of Ag has a regulation that restricts this number to only 1,000 per year. A strong influence is the president of MS Farm Bureau who I was told states he is against any uninspected meat entering commerce in MS. My question is WHY does his word carry more weight than you and me? Especially when 40 states allow the Federal limit of 20,000 per year.Raw Milk - currently 27 states allow the sale of raw dairy products. However, in MS the State Health Department hounds any small farmer who sells "Herd Shares" as a legal workaround to health department restrictions. WHY is it legal in 27 states and not in MS? And, WHY are MS politicians not interested in fixing this? Did you know that Oktibbeha County where MS State is located once had more than 800 small family dairies before regulations forced them out of business? Here is a good article titled, "Raw Milk Movement Goes Mainstream." Read it here. Sunn Hemp - is a high quality warm season legume known for soil building characteristics and ability to sequester more than 125 lbs. of nitrogen per acre. The USDA has studied Sunn Hemp since the 1930's and concurs the species offers no threat to our environment. And, 48 States concur! But, not Mississippi!!! Because, at MS State they have a professor named Dr. John Byrd, Jr. who is also the State weed specialist who continues to block the use of Sunn Hemp because he is concerned it will become the next Kudzu! I guess Byrd cannot read because the USDA has disproved this concern time and time again. Last Spring I tried to learn more facts regarding Sunn Hemp. First, I spoke to the Director of the Bureau of Plant Industry. She would not even disclose who the advisory members are. Then I contacted the Farm To Consumer Legal Defense Fund for legal assistance to file a Freedom of Information Request which one of their lawyers did for me. On July 10, 2023, I received a letter from MS Department of AG's General Counsel that two of my requests for documents resemble questions and legally they were not required to answer questions. The other request could not be filled due to lack of documents. Really!!! A few weeks ago I mentioned what I believe is the problem - WEF owns controlling interest of 94% of the S&P 500 PLUS Corporate Lobbyists PLUS Associations (like poultry, seed growers, etc.) which are responsible for many of the federal and state laws written to benefit their corporate best interest. And, that the LINK between this group and politicians must be broken. Politicians are supposed to work for We The People! First, I hope you will take the time to listen to the John Klar podcast. Second, if you agree then let Speaker White and Commissioner Andy Gipson know your thoughts. And last, share with your family and friends. Hopefully, we can be the light that ends some of the restrictions on our individual food freedom and open the way so more younger folks can farm and sell direct to consumers. 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.

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.