Grassroots Farmers Cooperative Helps Farmers Grow and Make Money

Andrea Todt and Cody Hopkins first generation farmers who started out in Arkansas in 2006 with the hope of generating their own income as well as jobs for their community. They had some success in getting off the ground, selling to farmers’ markets and restaurants in central Arkansas. But after about 7 years, they hit what Cody calls “the ceiling.” The logistics of getting food onto customers’ plates were very complex: Processing was 3 hours away, distribution was a challenge, and the struggle to make it all work just wasn't sustainable. They needed a different solution. How About A Cooperative? In the years that Cody and Andrea had been farming, they had developed relationships with fellow farmers, sharing loads of feed, loads of animals to processing, and deliveries to markets. They could see that working together offered opportunities for efficiency of scale. The question was, how could the farmers work together without losing autonomy, and maintain control over the value chain, the quality of the product that they were producing and selling? Could they form some kind of cooperative together? At the same time that Cody and Andrea and their farmer neighbors were chewing over this idea, Heifer International was revamping its US program. Heifer International is a global non-profit best known for providing start-up livestock to farmers in developing coun

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