The USDA is moving forward with its efforts to revamp the animal identification policy after the public comment period for the National Animal Identification Service (NAIS) revealed that the majority of respondents were highly critical of the program. Only a fraction of the producers in the United States were willing to participate in NAIS. The USDA announced on February 5, 2010 it was going to revise efforts to track animal disease using input from producers, individual state agricultural policymakers, experts and Tribal Nations.
The USDA has now committed to forming a new animal disease traceability framework in partnership with the states and Tribal Nations. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has expressed hope that the new framework will allow producers, the states and the Tribal Nations to use their expertise to draft a traceability program that works best for them. The new framework will only apply to animals shipped interstate and will only focus on animal disease traceability.
The Gothberg family raise Animal Welfare Approved LaMancha goats and make chevre, feta, gouda, and cheddar cheese on Gothberg Farms in Bow, Washington. Gothberg Farms is now a 40-acre flat farmland, but when the Gothbergs were just starting out the farm was much smaller, only renting a small portion of land from their next door neighbor. In 2001, however, the Gothbergs became stewards of the property, and in 2002, they got their first goats, and have been making cheese ever since.
Esta and Murray Cohen raise Animal Welfare Approved laying chickens at Cohen Farm in Pittsboro, NC. Their motto is, “Take care of the land, and the land will take care of you”- a philosophy that certainly shows through in everything they do on the farm.
A couple of opinion pieces that appeared within days of each other have recently caught my eye. First was “Grass-fed beef packs a punch to environment” by Dr. Gidon Eshel on the Reuters Blog, swiftly followed by “The myth of green beef,” in the Atlantic Blog, by Helene York. Both pieces swim rather vigorously against the scientific tide on the issue of the environmental impact of beef and grassfed cattle systems in particular.
The issue of environmental impact and meat production is a complicated one and open to misinterpretation and confusion. With my obvious interest in grassfed and pasture-raised production I am always looking to see what new evidence is being presented. After reading both pieces, however, I was left feeling rather disappointed. These articles are interesting, but they are interesting for all the wrong reasons. While they appear to put forward a strong argument, with independent studies mentioned, if not always actually referenced, they actually expose the problems of scientific reductionism and a general lack of academic rigor.
Joe, Judy and Joey Sparks raise Animal Welfare Approved beef cattle on Sparks Family Farm in Stuart, VA. Having grown up on a farm, Joe could never imagine a better or more fulfilling occupation. In 1995, he was able to realize his dream of farming again when the family purchased 300 acres in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, now known as Triple J Ranch (named after Joe, Judy, and Joey) and Sparks Family Farm.
Owen and Michelle Trangsrud raise Animal Welfare Approved beef cattle and chicken layers at Upright Organic Farm in Enderlin, ND. The 240 acre farm has been in the family since 1881 and it had always been a childhood dream of Owen’s that someday he might manage it. Currently on the farm are between 25 and 50 head of crossbred Angus and Charolais cattle and 60 laying hens.
The Plant family raises Animal Welfare Approved cattle on Scott River Ranch in Etna, California. For owners Gareth and Millie, farming has been a life-long commitment. Millie, a daughter of fourth-generation California farmers, swore she would never get into the business, until she met Gareth, who persuaded her back into the farming lifestyle. “Family is one of the main reasons we chose to live on a ranch,” say the Plants. The Plants have five children, and live next door to Millie’s parents and across the street from Gareth’s mother; a true family operation indeed.
Sharon and Gregg Songal raise Animal Welfare Approved laying hens on Little Country Farm in Warren, Connecticut. The Songals decided to raise Rhode Island Red, Barred Plymouth Rock, and Buff Orpington chickens because their hardy demeanors and excellent egg production made them a perfect fit for their New England farm. All three breeds are also “people friendly,” which is very important to the Songals. “Daily handling and making friends with the chicks is important and we continue to touch and handle them daily to keep them comfortable with us,” they explain.
“The truth will out” – no matter how hard you try to discredit or disregard it. That’s certainly what the industrial meat lobby is finding when it comes to the human health implications of the overuse of antibiotics in intensive livestock farming. For while they desperately fight a rearguard action to counter growing public concerns over intensive livestock production, yet another independent scientific study has proved that resistance to antibiotics is on the increase in intestinal bacteria in animals as a direct result of antibiotic treatments.
In her doctoral research at the Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, Anne-Mette R. Grønvold looked at the impact of antibiotic treatments on bacteria in the intestines of animals. Grønvold found that resistance to antibiotics is on the increase in intestinal bacteria in animals as a direct result of antibiotic treatments. She found that antibiotic resistance can spread between ordinary intestinal bacteria and disease-producing bacteria, and between bacteria from animals and bacteria from humans.
Joel & Carleen Weirauch raise their small flock of dairy sheep on 50+ acres of Certified Organic pastures in Petaluma, California for the farmstead production of a raw, aged sheep cheese and a sheep milk soap. Sustainable farming practices includes: rotational pasture management, green building, wash water re-use for irrigation, and solar.