Andy McMurry wasn’t your typical high schooler. He started raising sheep on his family’s Franklin, Missouri farm as a teenager. Upon graduation, he moved to New Zealand to complete a farming exchange program and further solidified his knowledge and passion for raising sheep.
“That was 31 years ago, and I’ve been raising sheep ever since,” Andy recalled. “Originally, I loved the independence of farming – the connection between the soil, sun and rain, making feed for the sheep, and the whole circle of life. But now that I also have a wool business, I get to enjoy networking and building business relationships with other growers.”
Andy makes a concerted effort to keep his flock on grass and out of any type of confinement environment. “They’re more content and their quality of life is just better with a grass-based system,” he explained. The sheep stay clean and healthy, their feed is pure, and they just function better out in nature.”
When asked what consumers should know about farming, Andy said he wishes they would take the time to get to know the people and processes behind their food. “There’s an enormous difference between an independent family farmer and a corporate grower,” he said. “Family farmers have to take a lot more risk in their contracts, and we don’t have nearly the same opportunities and benefits. There’s also a huge gap in how we’re represented politically. I want to encourage folks to get educated, and then get involved.”
Andy also wants people to understand the difference they’re making when they support family farmers. He likens it to buying real artwork at an art fair directly from the artisans versus buying gifts at a department store. He said:
“Companies like Moink help provide farmers like me with opportunities in a landscape that can feel pretty grim sometimes. Since Moink purchases finished lamb ready for harvest, I’m not forced to sell my animals as feeder lambs before they’re finished. I’m also able to get a bigger piece of the pie as far as the production profit, and that’s really significant. We family farmers would rather work harder and have the benefit of more earning potential for our family operations.”
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At Moink, our farmers are like family. Moink is farmer owned and we love introducing you to the men and women who compassionately and skillfully raise our animals. Check back for regular Meet our Farmers posts.