Farmers want to buy goods locally

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

LORMAN &8212; A group of local farmers is tired of driving elsewhere for their supplies.

So they are drumming up support for a rural co-operative and grain elevator to be built in Natchez.

Ronald Albritton of Circle A Feed Company coordinated a meeting on the Alcorn State University campus last week to persuade small farmers and ranchers to invest in a co-op.

Email newsletter signup

&8220;I think the location is key,&8221; Albritton said. &8220;If I can have enough local support and government support to open a co-op here, it would be beneficial in so many ways.&8221;

Albritton said he has 235 names of farmers, ranchers and feed store operators who said they would support a rural feed and supply co-operative in Natchez or Adams County plus letters of support from the Adams County Board of Supervisors and Natchez Chamber of Commerce.

Albritton said the benefits included farmers and ranchers saving money on trucking costs to buy feed and supplies from other co-ops in Mississippi or Louisiana.

One area rancher, Shelton Kaiser, said he would support Albritton&8217;s idea based on his own personal experience with the cost of his business.

&8220;Last year I fed my dairy cows 932,000 tons or about $60,000 worth of feed and had to go out of town to get it,&8221; Kaiser said.

Kaiser said he also traveled to Brookhaven to purchase barbed wire to contain his cattle.

&8220;If I could buy the supplies I need locally and at a cheaper price, then heck yeah I would support a co-op here and I think other farmers would too.&8221;

Albritton said his plan is to build the co-op near the site of the Adams County port or somewhere on the river.

&8220;We would have the capability to ship grain nationwide and possibly globally, not to mention we could create more jobs here,&8221; Albritton said.

Kaiser agreed a port-based co-op would be beneficial for the import and export of grain but supplies like tractor parts and fencing supplies would most likely need to be built on one of the major highways in Natchez.

Melba Smith, a representative of the Mississippi Association of Co-operatives, also attended the meeting to see the reaction of the farmers and rancher as well as to explain the process of forming a co-op.

&8220;I wanted to see how many people would be interested,&8221; Smith said. &8220;I think this meeting went very well and I look forward to working with Mr. Albritton in forming a co-op.&8221;

Albritton said he is working on gaining government support from Mississippi as well as out-of-state politicians.

His estimate on the cost of a rural co-op is $1,200,000 and said he would like to have it built by next fall but thinks it is not possible.

&8220;I have plenty of signatures of those who said they would support me, but what makes this thing get off the ground is money,&8221; Albritton said. &8220;I&8217;m still working on that.&8221;