Page 4 - Australian Pork Newspaper
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Peculiar Pig Farm
READING Australian Pork Limited’s June 11 Weekly Update and learning that the 30 del- egates who participated in its online delegates’ forum that week rep- resented 91 percent of Australian pork produc- tion, I pondered how small pork producers have now gone offline.
the pigs were my fa- rything he was doing,”
Marvin’s happy hogs at his Peculiar Pig Farm. Farmer Marvin Ross feeds his hogs.
SunPork and Rivalea – possibly soon to be branded JBS, subject to ACCC approval of its $175 million acquisi- tion bid – the big two vertically integrated na- tional pork producers, collectively are now ap- proaching almost half of Australia’s production.
“That’ s where it all started for me.”
His grandfather, a farmer, helped him feed and care for it and along the way, he taught Ross valuable lessons he would someday need to run a farm of his own.
In 2009, Ross founded ‘Peculiar Pig Farm’, named for the way he remembers watching his grandfather’ s hogs shuffle around.
“They didn’t have the money and the resources to do it differently,” Ross said.
vourite,” Ross said, who remembers how the drove of pigs would move in the most peculiar of ways, congregating like mem- bers of a church.
Ross said.
“If you integrate every-
Put another way, the small-scale operators have pressed the industry delete button... defeated.
A couple of years into his studies, his grandfa- ther died.
The model Ross is fol- lowing might be called regenerative agriculture by some but for him it’ s simply farming.
When he left for college Ross considered studying forestry but decided on business management in- stead.
“It cuts down on your fertiliser, it cuts down on everything you have to add to your crops be- cause the animals are doing a majority of the work.”
thing together, you have a sustainable model.
Those who remain have clearly declined to the point where now they may have little or no significant clout when it comes to decisions made by the bodies that repre-
sent them nationally and at state level.
At the age of seven Marvin Ross was given his first pig.
After graduating Ross returned to the old land, which had gone untended for years.
That’ s the grandfather and genera- tions of Black and In- digenous farmers always operated.
When it comes to in- dustry decisions, the actual value of member- ships is measured by the number of pigs owned and ultimately slaugh- tered, so it has become a game for big players.
way his
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For every $1 of levy paid, producer members of APL are entitled to one vote for their nominated APL delegate.
“I raised that pig and we took it to the market,” he said.
He started taking pigs to the market, following the path his grandfather had shown him, and has gradually grown his practices from there.
“This term regenera- tive agriculture has re- cently come about, but my grandfather had been doing this in the 1950s.
In addition to working a full-time job, Ross’ grandfather Thomas Henry Ross farmed more than 100 acres of land in Dorchester, South Caro- lina.
As a southern Black farmer, farming the same land that his grandfather once did is a way for Martin Ross to honour and continue his her- itage.
“A lot of things are being brought to the fore- front now that people weren’ t getting credit for at the time.”
With 11 children to help, Thomas and his wife grew row crops such as corn, soybean and cotton, in addition to vegetables such as cu- cumber, tomato and bell pepper.
Ross wants to one day farm at least 60 acres.
But it doesn’ t come without challenges.
Though it’s not as much land as his family once tended, it’ll be one step closer to reclaiming and honouring his grandfa- ther’s legacy.
Page 4 – Australian Pork Newspaper, July 2021
“Out of all the animals,
“My goal is to do eve-
While some industry observers believe this is way too much, it also in- dicates that many of the ‘tail’ have been forced out as the number of pigs produced each year hasn’t gone up that much.
Today, he farms 12 acres of land – a fraction of what his grandfather once had.
“I’m definitely fol- lowing his ways,” he said.
Anyway, while pon- dering the fate of small producers Downunder and their position on the pork playing field, I was heartened simultaneously to read this delightful story in Modern Farmer, a US farming e-publica- tion I subscribe to.
Ross remembers vis- iting his grandparents’ farm after school and on weekends, where he grav- itated to the livestock – cows, goats, chickens, guinea hens and a horse named Sadie.
Ross raises Yorkshire, Hampshire and red Duroc hogs, which he ro- tates through the wood- lots and pastures before spreading seeds, as well as chickens and ducks.
In a somewhat pecu- liar way, I’d like to see a regeneration of the Marvin Ross school of pig farming here in Aus- tralia.
But it was the hogs to which Ross was most drawn, enamoured by their squeals, large ears and flat snouts.
Later this year, he plans to add geese to the pack and then he hopes to introduce row crops, working his way up to running an operation similar to the one his grandfather had.
I believe the public is ready for it, as evidenced by how they’ve taken to spending their hard earned on free range pork and more recently pasture raised pork.

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