M. James' Perspective
Fourth generation farmer M. James Faison is the founder and president of Milton’s Local, an all-natural
meat company that supports sustainable agriculture by creating wholesale
channels for local farmers.
Milton's Local works with family farmers who raise their animals without hormones, antibiotics and steroids. It then aggregates the meat and sells it to wholesale buyers such as restaurants, universities and grocery stores. The company also processes hog bellies to create all-natural bacon and bacon sausage, both cured without using artificial nitrates and nitrites.
“I am inspired to create marketing opportunities for farmers so that they can continue to farm and remain pillars of rural communities,” M. James says. “I hope to create a large enough marketplace where our producers who want to farm full time will be able to support their family through their 'on-farm' income, and it is financially viable for potential young and beginning producers to start farming."
M. James also serves on the Board of Directors of Tricycle Gardens, a community non-profit organization that is committed to promoting urban agriculture. Tricycle Gardens uses urban agriculture both as way to beautify urban spaces in disadvantaged neighborhoods and to combat food deserts by providing fresh fruits and vegetables to corner stores. He also mentors agribusiness students at the College of Agriculture at Virginia State University, helping these young agribusiness entrepreneurs with their business and marketing plans.
To continue developing his own leadership skills and agricultural knowledge, M. James is also a participant in the VALOR (Virginia Agriculture Leaders Obtaining Results) Program through Virginia Tech. VALOR is a two-year leadership program in which participants meet with agricultural industry leaders to become better advocates for the industry. They travel all over the world to learn about the issues affecting the global agriculture industry, and discuss ways that the industry can continue to adapt to address concerns of the future.
“I think that we will see alternative forms of agriculture, such as organic, GMO-free and all-natural, become more popular in the future,” says M. James. “As a result, producers who engage in those agricultural practices will start to get larger and achieve scale. With scale, the prices of alternative agricultural products will become more price competitive with conventionally grown agricultural products, and thereby become more mainstream.”
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