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Local Loan Supports Thompson Farms

By Heather Kennedy, July 8, 2011  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Heather Kennedy

We’re idealists, we admit it! Our values drive what we do every day at Whole Foods Market and sometimes we have a special project that hits on multiple facets of our ideals. Such is the case with our most recent Local Producer Loan Program recipient, Thompson Farms Smokehouse.

We started the Local Producer Loan Program in 2006 with the goal of providing low interest loans to help local farmers and producers grow their businesses. With Thompson Farms, not only are we helping them expand their business with a loan, but we are also potentially helping them increase their 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating — another critical endeavor at Whole Foods Market.

The Thompson family has farmed in Dixie, Georgia for over 75 years, and today are one of the producers who help us attain our goal of carrying only the highest quality pork in our stores. If you are familiar with the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating Standards, Thompson Farms currently rates at an impressive Step 4, which means their pigs live continuously on pasture or outdoor foraging areas. The hogs raise their piglets in huts where they have wallows (otherwise known as “mud holes”), stroll through green grass and are treated gently by their caregiver with whom they are familiar.

Sounds pretty great, right? Well, with the proceeds of their loan, the father and son team at Thompson Farms will take it a step further by building a processing facility on site, which is one of the requirements to achieve Step 5+. If they are successful in this endeavor, they will be the first ever pork producer to reach this high standard! In fact, it’s the highest level possible within Global Animal Partnership’s Animal Welfare Rating system. At Step 5+, the hogs cannot be transported at all, which can cause stress to the animal. All piglets must be born and raised on the farm where they will spend their entire lives with their littermates, doing exactly what pigs are supposed to do.

I love working on the Local Producer Loan Program because I believe in supporting small entrepreneurs who have passion for their craft and produce some of our highest quality products. What an honor to work on a Local Producer Loan that combines our commitment to local products with our dedication to animal welfare.

To learn more about Thompson Farms, check out this slide show!

 

4 Comments

Comments

Cindy says ...
I love pork, but swore off all pork products over a decade ago when I had some experiences which convinced me that "regular" pig farming and transportation-to-slaughter practices in the U.S. were inhumane. If and when Thompson Farms gains a 5+ rating, I will happily purchase their pork products at my local Whole Foods in Mt. Pleasant, SC!
07/13/2011 6:48:24 PM CDT
Isobel says ...
Thank You Thompson Family!
07/13/2011 7:55:13 PM CDT
Lauren says ...
So happy to finally hear about a pig farm so close to step 5+. Hopefully, we will see more of this in the future.
07/11/2011 6:26:27 PM CDT
Shan Willoughby says ...
Congrtulations to both Thompson Farms AND Whole Foods! I was elated to read about your Local Producer Loan Program for several reasons, including: 1) We live in Georgia and purchase from local pork producers, including Thompson Farms at the Sandy Springs Whole Foods location. The Animal Welfare Rating System absolutely, positively determines how and where we buy our meat products. 2) The Local Producer Loan Program is an encouraging step toward supporting local, sustainable food sources through smaller farms who are doing the right thing for both animals and our environment yet are unable to recieve the funds needed to take their business to the next level. 3) My husband and I have been tossing around non-profit ideas for how we can provide grants to small, local farms and support the growth of their businesses. Your program gives me hope! Thank you for taking the time to think wisely about our local food sources! Shan Willoughby
07/11/2011 6:27:16 PM CDT