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Farm to table operation tries to grow

Reported by: Susan Parker
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Updated: 6/25/2014 8:42 pm
WEST POINT, Miss. (WTVA) -- Dustin Pinion and Ali Fratesi didn't plan to become poultry farmers. Education got in the way.

"After we started learning more and more about our food systems, we really felt we had no other choice but to farm," said Dustin Pinion, owner of Beaverdam Fresh Farms.

Each day, the couple feed their chickens. They are free to roam and not always in the same field either.

"We're always moving our animals because animals in nature are always moving," said Ali Fratesi.

Their approach is a step above free range. Their chickens and pigs are pasture raised.

This approach is rapidly growing their client base.

"They see these animals are getting to express themselves and be happy and eat grass. They are super excited about it," added Fratesi.

That excitement is mixed with disappointment, however.

There is not enough to supply the demand.

The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce regulations allow small operations to grow and process up to 1,000 birds. They can try to qualify to raise 20,000 if they have an approved processing facility. They're raising money to build one now, but there is a catch. Distribution is not allowed.

Many of their customers live up to two hours away and have to drive to this rural Clay County farm to get their birds. It's a hassle this couple would like to avoid.

"They just basically need to update their regulations to be able to mimic what other states are doing successfully," added Pinion.

Their customers started a petition and gathered 2,000 signatures in just one week. There has not yet been any response from state agriculture officials who recently received the petition along with numerous phone calls.

"(We're) trying to build this together and it's really important to our future and many other farms like us, too. it's not just about us," said Fratesi.

If you would like more information, go to their website

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