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Harvesting Change - Advocating for Family Farms
Missouri Ag Connection - 03/01/2024

At the first ever Farm Aid concert in 1985, a group of Missouri advocates for family farms was awarded $10,000.

The contribution marked the birth of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center (MRCC). These Missouri farmers gathered during the farm crisis in the 1980s and found a shared purpose as the industrialization of the pork industry pushed small hog producers out of the game in the 1990s.

Forty years later, MRCC supporters still attend Farm Aid. They sport red t-shirts emblazoned with “Stop Factory Farms” and serve pork raised on family farms in Missouri via Patchwork Family Farms, an affiliate of MRCC.

Patchwork offers local producers a place to sell their hogs without having to compete with the big meat packers. It provides vital links in the local food chain, relieving folks who just want to farm from the stress of processing, packaging and marketing. It also sources local restaurants with a reliable distributor.

“We just knew we needed to take action,” said Rhonda Perry, MRCC’s executive director, about forming Patchwork in the 1990s. “Hog farmers, along with consumers, in our organization really cared about making sure we were saving the hog industry and animal husbandry practices and the creation of good food.”

MRCC pushes for policies to make the commodity markets more competitive for the little guys, and to prevent the cattle industry from following in the footsteps of the hog industry.

“We don’t want to be right about this,” said Tim Gibbons with MRCC. “But we were right in the ‘90s.”

MRCC supports legislative policies to enforce country-of-origin labeling, to stop the foreign ownership of farmland and to advocate for local control, all with the goal of keeping resources and wealth in local communities.

“The corporate capture of (agriculture and livestock) really impacts rural families and family farmers, putting family farmers out of business,” Gibbons said. “The ripple effect of that over time into our communities has been devastating.”

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