May 12, 2014
The HSUS Missouri Agriculture Council
Local farmers join with The HSUS to foster better animal welfare and environmental stewardship
Meet the local farmers who make up our Missouri Agriculture Council, the sixth in our growing system of state agriculture councils.
Wes Shoemyer lives on his family farm in Monroe County with his wife Cheryl. As a former state senator and representative, Wes has been a champion and a voice for the independent family farmer in Missouri and around the world.
Wes has received a number of awards for his work protecting sustainable agriculture and rural communities, including the Governor's Advisory Council on Agriculture Award, Concerned Agriculturalist of Missouri Award, the Family Farm Leadership Award from Missouri Farmers Union, the Farm Forum Dedicated Service to Rural America Award, and the Rural Health Clinic Recognition of Service Award.
Agriculture has always been a fundamental part of Shoemyer's life. He is a recipient of the American Farmer degree from FFA, a member of the National Farmers Organization, the Missouri Farmers Union, NEMO Grain Processors, and the Ozark Mountain Pork Processing Plant. He attends Oak Grove Baptist Church and is a member of Shelbina Lodge #228.
Eric Fuchs grew up on a small cattle and row-crop operation in southeast Missouri. He purchased his own farm at the age of 28 and began raising cattle conventionally.
After seeing the direction agriculture was going, he began to experiment with different grazing practices and a more sustainable way of farming. He now custom-grazes stocker cattle using Holistic Planned Grazing and just recently added hair sheep to his operation.
Eric rotates his livestock through numerous paddocks and is working to make his operation more sustainable by adding more species and other enterprises. He markets his lambs off-farm to people interested in starting their own sheep enterprises.
Eric is active in many diverse groups and organizations to try to educate existing farmers and ranchers, as well as the public, on alternative methods of raising animals and crops that are both sustainable and profitable.
Ruell Chappell has been a local food activist for seven years. Ruell believes that a re-localization of our food supply will create local food security, a local economy with jobs, improved health, local fuel conservation, and local food price stability. His motto is one community, one county, one state at a time.
Under the exceptional care of Larry and Jackie Melton, Ruell's Gateway Farms, LLC, in Greene County is dedicated to education and advocacy of all local food models, including urban farming. The diversified farm model adhering to humane, chemical-free, permaculture-promoting practices, is the benchmark and the message at Gateway Farms.
Ruell is also owner of RCM, Inc., a marketing and educational/training firm, as well as a member of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils—giving him a real voice in the global-vs.-local food argument. Through RCM, Inc., Ruell is currently working on technological tools to better connect the small, local producer with the ever-growing demand for chemical-free real food.
Eddy Mitchell is a fourth generation cattle farmer in Monroe County, Missouri.
He is married and has two sons—one on the farm, and another set to graduate from the University of Missouri in the spring of 2014.
Eddy is a deacon and past chairman of the Madison Christian Church as well as a member of several organizations including the Missouri Farmers Union.
Eddy started and successfully ran Region Medical Equipment, a company providing crucial medical equipment in the rural area of Paris, Missouri. He currently sells real estate and farms.
Ken Midkiff has long been involved in environmental issues—on both a personal level, as owner/operator of a vacation resort on Table Rock Lake, and on a professional level, first as Director of the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club and then as Director of the national Sierra Club's Clean Water/CAFO Campaign.
Ken has long been interested in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations and has a published book on the subject (The Meat You Eat, St. Martin's Press, 2004).
Now retired, Ken holds positions on various boards of directors, ranging from the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center to the Community Association for Restoration of the Environment.
He has been a member of local, regional, state, and national commissions, committees, and working groups, including the USDA/NRCS Technical Committee and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Odor Control Working Group.
Ken is also a member of several environmental/conservation organizations: Audubon Society, Southern Utah Wilderness Association, National Parks and Recreational Association, Missouri Parks Association, Center for Biological Diversity and, of course, The Humane Society of the United States.
An avid angler, Ken is also a member of Trout Unlimited, the Missouri Smallmouth Bass Alliance, Ozark Flyfishing Association, the North American Fishing Club (life member) and the International Federation of Fly Fishing. He has taken fly-fishing trips to Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, as well as monthly trips to Montauk and Roaring River state parks.
Ken was a weekly columnist for 19 years at the Columbia Daily Tribune and currently is a writer for the Columbia Heart Beat. He continues as a journalist, writing for the Post-Dispatch, the KC Star, the Joplin Globe and other national newspapers on a submission or query basis.
He has been married to his wife Julie for 46 years, has two sons, Michael and Charles, and has three grandchildren, Simon, Eben and Chloe.
Sheila Nichols is a budding food advocate and the fortunate steward of Springhouse Farm in Nixa, Missouri. She shares this charming little farm with Mark, Taylor, and Sarah—along with four dogs, one cat, a few chickens, two miniature donkeys, and the not-so miniature pig, Pearl.
The acreage and fresh spring water has been key in partnering with her neighbors to raise pastured cattle, pigs, chicken, produce, and raw milk. In addition to developing friendships and connections to the community, this has provided wider access to real, fresh food.
As a founding member and president of Food CORE (Cultivating Our Regional Experience) and committee member of the newly formed Ozarks Regional Food Policy Council, Sheila spends much of her time working in the community to increase awareness about the importance of a local, sustainable, and humane food system and its impact on the health of our bodies, environment, community, and economy.
Chelsea Davis is a self-proclaimed “farm girl,” raised on a small farm in Southwest Missouri. She has more than 10 years of experience working professionally in sustainable agriculture.
Chelsea has long recognized that our food system is broken and requires drastic change. In 2011 she became co-owner of the Root Cellar, a retail store in downtown Columbia, Missouri, that's focused on local food. In addition to the Root Cellar, Chelsea is building a small farm of her own. Nature Fresh Farms is a diversified operation near Millersburg, Missouri. There Chelsea raises heritage pork on pasture, duck eggs, a wide range of vegetables and cut flowers.
Chelsea also finds time to be an active member of Missouri Rural Crisis Center and Slow Food Katy Trail. She shares her experience with fellow farmers striving to produce more sustainably.
Jake Davis has a small farm in Callaway County and is co-owner of the Root Cellar, a retail store in downtown Columbia focused on local food. As a community-based micro food retailer, Root Cellar provides all the basics for fresh, home-cooked meals at a fraction of a typical grocery's impact.
He has worked for years to build a farm from scratch as a “hobby” while working professionally on food, farm and environmental issues. These experiences have led to a passion for food that is seasonal, local and sustainable.
Jake has long been active in Missouri agriculture as a former treasurer of Missouri Farmers Union, former Missouri State FFA vice president and current chair of the NVAD Farmers and Artisans Market. He continues to be a strong advocate for policies focused on building a better food system.