Heifer's Work in The United States of America
Despite fertile lands and a large economy, many people in the U.S. are without work and don't have enough to eat. Two areas in particular suffer from persistent extreme poverty and higher rates of food insecurity: Arkansas and the Appalachia region. Due to high unemployment rates and low economic opportunities, children and families in those area suffer from a lack of access to healthy food.
Heifer’s strategy in Arkansas is to support a critical mass of smallholder, sustainable farmers by connecting them to each other, helping them increase their production and connecting them to local profitable markets. In so doing, Heifer USA expects to increase farmer incomes that can provide them with a sustainable living, while providing Arkansans with better access to healthy, locally produced food. We do this through the creation of farmer-owned businesses that centers on two main value chains: a multi-farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) enterprise focused on locally-grown produce, and a sustainable livestock farmers’ cooperative.
This requires innovative, coordinated, and profitable local food markets for new and existing smallholder farmers. This is done by harnessing existing production, stimulating new market demand and expanding market penetration, which helps smallholder producers to be successful.
How You Can Get Involved
If you live in Central Arkansas, you can help develop opportunities for local Arkansas producers while enjoying farm-fresh produce grown in the state. Our local partner, the Farm and Food Innovation Center in North Little Rock, Ark., trains farmers in sustainable agricultural and serves as the “food hub” for Heifer USA programming efforts.
Appalachia is one of the world’s most fertile agricultural regions, rich in farmable land, clean water, and hard-working people. Still, many families struggle without reliable access to nutritious food, giving rise to serious diet-related diseases. Significant infrastructure, marketing, and information barriers limit participation in project regions.
Supporting local growers and innovators is crucial to strengthening local economies in the U.S. By encouraging community development at the local level, Heifer is creating opportunities by improving access to markets for smallholder farmers and helping them to build farmer-owned businesses that allow them to keep a greater share of the market value of their products, while reinvesting profits in their own communities.
Heifer USA programming is driven by local motivation, local farmers, local innovation and local leadership. This focus on community-based development is the key to successfully ending hunger here at home.
Areas of Focus
To meet regional demand for locally grown food, Heifer USA is working to recruit and help a broad base of smallholder, sustainable farmers to increase their production.
Market demand is the foundation for rebuilding local food systems in both regions. Heifer USA will connect small, low-resource farmers to profitable markets and larger regional economies.
Heifer USA producers will gain access to community-owned, affordable services and infrastructure. They will also receive support in marketing, processing, aggregation and distribution.
Our strategy encourages a farmer-to-farmer collaboration and mentorship program that will nurture new producers and move products from farms to markets more efficiently. Local food entrepreneurs will, in turn, provide innovative solutions and open opportunities in local food systems.
In both Appalachia and Arkansas, many farmers lack access to financial capital and credit. Heifer USA provides technical assistance, small grants and low-interest loans, and makes direct investments in select low-resource farmers and local food entrepreneurs.