AWA farmer Tim Koebel from Windy Ridge Natural Farms in Alfred, NY, writes a guest blog about his recent visit from AWA program director Andrew Gunther.
Yesterday, we had the pleasure of hosting Andrew Gunther, Program Director of Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), for a tour of our farm. In spite of the absolutely horrid weather (36 degrees, heavy rain, snow and strong winds), we managed to get Mr. Gunther a decent look at our operation and some chicken soup afterwards to take the chill off.
I always enjoy an opportunity to meet, speak with and learn from someone like Mr. Gunther, but several things made this a very special visit. First, Mr. Gunther’s core expertise is poultry and to have access to someone with his knowledge and experience was a very exciting event. I could have talked for days. I would have offered him a vacation spot to keep him on the farm longer but I figured our current strange weather would scare him off of that thought.
Secondly, his visit really changed the way I look at AWA. I knew from the beginning that AWA cares about the animals but I must confess that I had no idea of how much they care about the farmers that support their standards. I was also very pleased to learn how committed Mr. Gunther is to improving all aspects of our food supply, including but going beyond the welfare of livestock. We discussed many topics and it is clear that AWA is here to support their member farmers with a variety of resources, including some very experienced industry professionals.
It really was an enriching experience for me and I hope it was for him as well. I realize that Mr. Gunther is a busy man with a busy schedule so this really was a rare opportunity and I’d like to thank him for taking the time to tour our modest operation and look forward to a long relationship with him and Animal Welfare Approved.
I would urge you to support AWA, even if only by mentioning AWA to the farmer that you buy your chicken, beef or lamb (etc.) from, and by looking for the AWA label. It’s a great program for the animals and it’s great for the farmer and consumer as well. AWA specifically looks to support family farms rather than the typical corporate industrial farm. They also have the most stringent standards of the three national humane certifiers and yet are the only one that provides their certification at no cost to the farmer.
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Hope to see you there!