JEFFERSON CITY — The Humane Society of the United States has formed an agriculture council made up of farmers, ranchers and conservationists.
The HSUS Missouri Agriculture Council will work to connect livestock producers who practice humane and sustainable agriculture with consumers seeking products that meet higher animal welfare standards, and will help other farmers transition to more humane animal management, HSUS says in a news release.
The HSUS also has agriculture councils in Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina and Ohio.
The farmers who make up The HSUS Missouri Agriculture Council, include Wes Shoemyer who is a former state senator and sustainable farmer from Monroe County.
Shoemyer said, “Over the last few decades farmers have been driven off of the land by industrialized agriculture and it has drained our rural economies. We need to reinvest in these communities by promoting independent farmers and sustainable agriculture, and I’m happy to work with the HSUS to do that.”
Shoemyer 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.
Sheila Nichols, another council member, is the steward of Springhouse Farms in Nixa. She helps raise pastured cattle, pigs, poultry and produce.
Nichols said, “Educating the public about the sustainability and humane practices of food production is becoming increasingly important in Missouri and the United States. I’m thrilled to be working with the Humane Society of the United States on promoting food policies and practices that improve the lives of animals, our health and our environment.”
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, Nichols spends much of her time working to increase awareness about local, sustainable and humane food systems.
Also on the council are:
- Eric Fuchs, a grass-fed cattleand sheep producer from Southeast Missouri. Fuchs now custom grazes stocker cattle using Holistic Planned grazing and recently added hair sheep to his operation.
- Eddy Mitchell, a fourth generation cattle farmer from Monroe County. He is a deacon and past chairman of the Madison Christian Church, as well as a member of several organizations including the Missouri Farmers Union. He currently sells real estate and farms.
- Ruell Chappell, a local food system producer in Southwest Missouri. Chappell has been a local food activist for seven years. Ruell’s Gateway Farms, LLC, in Greene County is dedicated to education and advocacy of all local food models, including urban farming.
- Ken Midkiff, the advisory member and environmentalist from Columbia, MO. Midkiff has long been involved in environmental issues 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.