Supermarkets? A farmer's view: McIvor Farm Foods

Supermarkets? A farmer's view: McIvor Farm Foods

Supermarkets and supply chains are under increasing scrutiny. We want to know why 'our' farmers don't participate in the commodity food system facilitated by supermarkets.

Together with these farmers and you, our customers, we’re part of an alternative food community with different priorities from the supermarket system. But 'alternative' and 'different' generally means more effort and less certainty.

So why do farmers opt out of the mainstream system?

Here's a response from Belinda and Jasan Hagan who run one of the largest pasture-raised pig farms in Australia, McIvor Farm Foods at Tooborac in Victoria.

Read about why we're doing this and previous responses from Near River Produce and Moorlands Biodynamic Farm.

Jason and Belinda Hagan met when they both worked in the intensive pig production industry, before they had a change of heart about food and land management. They started farming together in 2010 and these days they call themselves, "soil farmers who run pigs across our property to help us regenerate the land we live on by putting nutrients and biodiversity back into the farm’s ecosystem”.
Grant took this photo on a 2022 farm visit.

Here's what the Hagans had to say.

"Farming isn't a job - it's our LIFE.

We live and breathe it from morning to night. It's hard work, but we love it, and we've built a business and brand based on the morals and values that matter to us - honesty, transparency, financial security and food that is natural and healthy.

In our universe, it's the morals and values that lead the way, not profit and price. Of course, we're like any business and we want financial security and to make a fair living from our profession. But the simple answer is that to work with us, you need to respect what we do and our morals and values must align.

We just wouldn't fit in a supermarket system. Supermarkets feed a lot of people and manage incredible logistics, but that system doesn't value the things that matter to us.

When Jason and I started our farming life together, we had an accountant focussed entirely on money and profit, he just couldn't understand our other goals. I told him that if money was all we cared about, Jason and I wouldn't have left agricultural careers with company cars and bonuses, farming and selling industrial pork and not caring about the impacts on the animals, the environment, the food and the people, just happy that our bank balance increased at the end of the year.

In the end, the industrial agricultural system wasn't one we believed in so we left. We also parted ways with that accountant and found more like-minded people to support our journey. After 14 years, we have been extremely blessed to find people like Feather and Bone - who actually get it!

Unfortunately, the supermarket system offers very cheap food which makes us, by contrast, look really expensive.

Of course, if you cram animals into sheds, automate every process so you can strip out people to reduce wages, avoid engaging with unpredictable natural systems and focus on scale and speed rather than quality and nutrition you can save costs and charge less. But you also get a lot less in terms of nutrition, health, animal welfare, environmental welfare, climate change mitigation, community and people development and more.

The TRUE cost of food production in a regenerative, respectful, environmental, wholesome manner is higher than what you'll pay in a supermarket. But you're not just paying for a product, you're investing in your health and a better food future.

We know the financial pressures everyone's experiencing and business isn't immune to it! We're also dealing with interest rate rises, increased costs such as insurance, wages, diesel and the list goes on... It's hard for people not to choose cheaper food.

But customers need to think about the impacts on the future of Australian agriculture, food security and our health. Where they spend their dollars decides our future - not the politicians, not the government - YOU the Customer, YOUR money and YOUR future. Well, OUR food future, actually.

Supermarkets push profit above all else because they're answering to their shareholders and their shareholders want a profit. Well, we answer to our shareholders too - our customers!

All our customers are shareholders in what we do and every dollar you spend with Feather and Bone or directly with us supports our business - which supports the soil, animal welfare, biodiversity, environment, local economy, local employment, consumer health....

Those are the returns we and our shareholders want."

Jason and Belinda Hagan
McIvor Farm Foods

McIvor pigs are frequently and regularly moved to fresh pastures, a practice that's labour intensive but very good for the soil and the pigs and only possible because of mobile fencing and shelters.

If you don't want the supermarkets to be the only ones left standing, then you need to buy our food!

Shop at Marrickville or Waverley or ORDER YOUR PORK HERE!

We’ve been sourcing whole, pasture-raised, heritage-breed meat and poultry from sustainably-managed, local farms since 2006.

Together with these farms - and you - we’re part of an alternative food community intent on opening up the line of sight from the consumer to the farm and back again. We think that matters.

Do you love Feather and Bone? Believe in what we do? Support small business?
We won't lie, these are tricky times for independent businesses, particularly small food businesses that put purpose above profits. Of course, everyone's feeling the bite of increased costs, from the farm to your plate and back again.

But there's one way to help us that won't cost you a cent...


Here's one we received earlier...

"Feather and Bone provide a delicious venn diagram of ethics, taste and quality. Their products (particularly ham, goat and beef as well as the Sommerlad chicken) are delicious, and often i find i serve less meat per portion as it is very satisfying to eat. Even if you don't care about ethics, purely on taste and quality its well worth a visit!" - Wilson, 03/24. 


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