Cody Hopkins of Grassroots Farmer Cooperative and Falling Sky Farm joins Mike Badger and Grady Phelan to talk about the power of farming friends. In it’s second year of operation, the cooperative expects to market 70,000 broilers, 2,000 broilers, 400 hogs, and 60 head of beef.
Cody and his wife Andrea are first generation farmers who started in 2007 on rented land. They went from renting 40 to 250 acres. In 2010, they were full time farmers and encountered all the problems first generation farmers do including buying land, growing quickly, and cash flow.
A really important benefit was that they had an informal network of livestock farmers in Arkansas that enabled bulk feed purchases, collaboration, and support. It pushed them to be better farmers.
“It made more sense to work together than to see each other as competition,” says Cody.
That informal network of beginning farmers teamed up with Heifer International to build a sustainable, robust value chain that would help farmers around the state of Arkansas. And the informal network was formalized into the Grass Roots Cooperative in 2014.
Heifer has helped with strategic relationships, creative funding sources, market development and more.
Listen to the full episode to hear Cody’s thoughts on competition, quality control, marketing, production, financing, apprentice farm memberships, difficult cooperative members, and much more.
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