No javascript detected! Our online shopping basket requires javascript. You can also complete your order by phone at 855.9HUNGER
You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security. You can also complete your order by phone at 855.9HUNGER

Heifer USA, Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative and RSF Social Finance Team Up to Support Family Farms in Arkansas

CLINTON, Arkansas

A diverse family-farmer cooperative is taking off in rural Arkansas, creating a model for ethical animal husbandry and slowly rebuilding the local economy in one of the country’s poorest states.

The members of Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative banded together in 2014—with technical, organizational and financial support from Heifer USA—to support one another and help new producers learn about sustainable animal agriculture. Now the co-op, which has been lauded by Little Rock media for its tasty meats, has received $600,000 in customized financing from RSF Social Finance, the leading funder of food hubs in the U.S.

“If this new funding helps us reach our vision, our co-op can be a model for other rural areas,” said Cody Hopkins, the co-op’s general manager and co-founder. “We’re creating economically viable livelihoods that take care of the land, lift up people and communities, and produce delicious, healthy meats.”

Hopkins, a first-generation farmer at Falling Sky Farm who was named a 2015 Arkansan of the Year by Arkansas Life, added, “Over the last 10 years, I’ve seen first-hand how farming can rebuild rural economies.”

The new funding from RSF Social Finance will reduce costs for farmers and enable production growth. A $400,000 line of credit will help the co-op buy animals from member farmers and process them, while a $200,000 loan will help the co-op finance the farmers’ purchases of feed and animals, which will be raised and eventually sold back to the co-op.  

Before the co-op, member Mitchell Latture of Freckle Face Farm said he was struggling to access markets and get the best prices for his pasture-raised products. “We had access to land, and we wanted to start a farm and raise our kids out here on the land. But we were working ourselves to death without being able to sustain it.”

The co-op provides loans, training and mentoring, as well as transport, processing and marketing of goods, which go for a premium price because of their quality. Grass Roots’ 13 farms—up from nine two years ago—raise livestock (chickens, cows, turkeys, pigs and sheep) and believe in the benefits of raising happy animals that forage in forests or graze and peck on pastures. The farmers range from recently arrived immigrants from Costa Rica to families whose tie to the local land can be traced back generations. (Hear from more of the farmers about their approach and collaboration in this Grass Roots video and this Heifer farmer profile).  

Ben Wihebrink of Heifer USA, who has worked closely with Grass Roots, said organizations like the co-op are essential to improving rural economies: “Poverty is widespread in Arkansas, with one in four people suffering from food insecurity. That’s why Heifer is active here and in other parts of the Southeast.”

RSF’s funding is a milestone for the San Francisco-based organization: the $200,000 loan is the first disbursement from its new Soil Health Capital Collaborative, one of four newly launched philanthropic funds that provide a tailored mix of financing types to emerging social enterprises working on deep and systemic impact. “There aren’t many financing options for small-scale operations like this co-op,” said Kate Danaher, senior manager, social enterprise lending and integrated capital. “A lot of money is going into food technology and delivery businesses, but hardly any is going to help enterprises like this reach economies of scale. That’s where our capital comes in.”

Grass Roots is a great fit for the Soil Health Capital Collaborative, said Danaher, because “the co-op’s sustainable grazing methods are one of the best ways to sequester carbon and improve the health of our soil which, in turn, creates more nutrient dense food as well as less runoff and other ecological benefits.”

The social benefits are equally compelling. “Without the co-op,” Danaher said, “these small farmers wouldn’t be attracted to farming or would be relegated to selling to large, industrial meatpackers for much less. In this region, a conventional chicken farmer is paid pennies a pound, while a Grass Roots sustainable farmer makes $2.00 per pound.”

“We’re very proud of Grass Roots’ accomplishments, and the additional capital from RSF means we can look to the future. This gives us a model for the growth of farmer businesses, from grant funding to impact-based debt,” said Wihebrink of Heifer USA.


About Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative
Grass Roots Farmers’ Cooperative is a group of small-scale farmers who have teamed up to share resources to deliver the best foods more easily to conscientious consumers. All Grass Roots farmers are committed to sustainably raising livestock on clean pastures using methods that benefit the animals and the land on which they graze. Each Grass Roots farmer has a unique, personal interest in sustainable agriculture. Read their stories to learn more about why we farm the way we do.

About Heifer USA
Heifer USA’s programs in Arkansas minimize barriers for people entering farming as a profession, providing capital and organizational support to farmers. Its mission is to create good jobs and sustain higher incomes for farmers in the state. Learn more about how Heifer works with groups of farmers in the US.

About RSF Social Finance
RSF Social Finance offers innovative opportunities to invest, give, and get funding that generate positive social, economic, and ecological impact. Since 1984, RSF has made over $450 million in loans, grants, and investments supporting social enterprises in the areas of food and agriculture, education and the arts, and ecological stewardship. Find out more about how RSF connects social entrepreneurs with diverse forms of capital.

Free Download

You only need to enter this information once to download digital resources.

Basket Summary

edit
Your gift will be matched!

{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle }}

Qty: {{ product.quantity }} @ {{ product.price | currency }} Qty: {{ product.quantity }} @ FREE Monthly
{{ (product.quantity * product.price) | currency }} Free

No products in cart.

Additional Impact {{ processingFee | currency }} Sub-total {{ cartSubTotal | currency }} Shipping Cost {{ orderShippingCost | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Tax Cost {{ orderTax | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Total {{ cartTotal | currency }} Monthly Total {{ cartSubscriptionTotal | currency }}

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

edit

Billing Address

{{ billingAddress.first_name }} {{ billingAddress.last_name }} {{ billingAddress.address_1 }} {{ billingAddress.address_2 }} {{ billingAddress.city }}, {{ billingAddress.state }} {{ billingAddress.zip }} {{ billingAddress.country }}

Company

{{ billingAddress.company }}

Shipping Address

{{ shippingAddress.first_name }} {{ shippingAddress.last_name }} {{ shippingAddress.address_1 }} {{ shippingAddress.address_2 }} {{ shippingAddress.city }}, {{ shippingAddress.state }} {{ shippingAddress.zip }} {{ shippingAddress.country }}
edit

Shipping Method

{{ orderShippingOption.description }}

Basket Summary

Step 1 of 2 Step 1 of 3 Step 1 of 4
Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Get your free Honor Cards after checkout.
Your gift will be matched!
Your basket has been updated.
The following item(s) are now sold-out or unavailable and have been removed from your cart:
-{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle}} ({{ product.quantity}})

{{ product.title }} {{ product.subTitle }} To: {{ product.giftCardRecipientName }} From: {{ product.giftCardSenderPrint }} Email: {{ product.giftCardRecipientEmail }} Delivery: {{ product.giftCardDeliveryDate }} Message: {{ product.giftCardMessage | truncate '200' }} Activation Code: {{ product.giftCardCode }} Delivery: {{ product.additional_info['deliveryDate'] }} Message: {{ product.additional_info['personalMessage'] | truncate '200' }} 1 {{prods["title"]}}

{{ (product.quantity * product.price) | currency }}/month
You've reached the maximum number of products for this item.
You've reached the maximum number of products for this item.
${{ product.price }}
$ {{ product.price }} Free
Remove
Great! We'll help you set up your free Honor Card after your donation is complete.

Gift Message

Personalize your message up to 5 lines in length.

Preview

heifer.org
Subtotal {{ cartSubTotal | currency }}
Monthly Subtotal {{ cartSubscriptionTotal | currency }}
It's not a hand out. It's a hand up.

For maximum impact, try adding a few items to your basket.

Browse The Gift Catalog
Secured Checkout

Increase Your Impact with a Donation Visit the Gift Catalog

Make an even bigger impact with a donation from our Gift Catalog

Responsibly-Sourced, Artisan-Friendly Gifts Shop the Marketplace

Shop the Marketplace for responsibly-sourced, artisan-friendly gifts
Secured Checkout
Continue Shopping
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 2 Step 2 of 3 Step 2 of 4
All major credit cards and Paypal accepted
All major credit cards accepted
Shipping Information

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Shipping Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 3 Step 2 of 3 Step 2 of 4
All major credit cards and Paypal accepted
All major credit cards accepted
Billing Information
Enter your company name to see if your employer will match your gift.

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Billing Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Step 2 of 3 Step 2 of 3 Step 2 of 4
All major credit cards and Paypal accepted
All major credit cards accepted
Billing Information
Enter your company name to see if your employer will match your gift.

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Billing Address
Shipping Information

If you have received a gift catalog in the mail please enter the highlighted code that begins with a "D" or a "P" in the source code box below. If you have not received a Heifer Gift Catalog please leave the source code blank.

Shipping Address
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary

{{ cartCheckoutPath[2].title }}

Step 3 of 3 Step 3 of 3 Step 3 of 4 Select shipping method. Orders after 12:00 PM CST will be shipped the next business day. Orders on Saturday or Sunday will be shipped the next business day.
{{shippingOption.description}} ${{shippingOption.shippingCost}}
Secured Checkout
Secured Checkout
Edit Basket Summary Edit {{ cartCheckoutPath[1].title }}

Payment Information

Step 3 of 3 Step 3 of 3 Step 4 of 4
All major credit cards and Paypal accepted
All major credit cards accepted

Payment Summary

Additional Impact {{ processingFee | currency }} Sub-total {{ cartSubTotal | currency }} Shipping Cost {{ orderShippingCost | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Tax Cost {{ orderTax | currency }} NOT YET CALCULATED Total {{ cartTotal | currency }} Monthly Total {{ cartSubscriptionTotal | currency }}

Pay By Credit Card
Pay with
Pay with
We were not able to process your request. Please try again or contact Donor Services at 855.9HUNGER (855.948.6437).
Secured Checkout