All of us at Animal Welfare Approved have been concerned about the seemingly endless spate of devastating weather across the country, and are doing what we can to reach out to our farmers in affected areas. Our hearts go out to all of those who have suffered the overwhelming loss of loved ones, homes, and livelihoods. As the people of Joplin, MO work to pick up the pieces and move on from the disaster in their area, we have become aware of a unique effort springing from within the AWA family and we are doing all we can to support it wholeheartedly.
Jack Whisnant, the son of Patricia and Mark Whisnant (Animal Welfare Approved farmers from American Grassfed Beef in Doniphan, MO), is leading a group to Joplin to provide BBQ pork and grassfed burgers over the Memorial Day weekend and following week.
This endeavor is a massive undertaking, and we want to assist Jack in being able to meet the needs of all those in Joplin who come to him for aid. If you would like to support this effort please read on for details on how you can help.
Dominick and Jeanette Siniscalchi have been raising livestock on their farm in Delaware County, New York since 1988. Dominick’s history with farming began in Italy, where his mother raised goats, made cheese and grew hazelnuts. Raising grassfed Black Angus cattle has always been SMI Farm’s main business, and Jeanette proudly describes their beef program as “birth to table.” The cattle remain on the farm until the day they are slaughtered, thanks to an AWA Good Husbandry Grant which allowed them to build an on-farm slaughter facility.
Jamie Jacobs has been farming since the 1970s on the family farm he was raised on in Clinton, North Carolina. While his family has always grown row crops, today Jamie raises hogs with the help of his son, James, as his father did from time to time.
Greg Kasten of Double Creek Farm has been raising cattle on his family’s land in Clayton, IL, about 40 miles East of the Mississippi River, since 1976. While the farm has undergone many changes since then, his animals have always been pasture-raised outdoors with a focus on making sure to keep them happy and healthy. His Animal Welfare Approved herd now consists of around 100 White Park cows. Greg sought AWA certification in 2010 and was happy to learn that the AWA standards were well in-line with his own goal as a farmer to always act in the best interest of his animals.
Legislators in Florida have thrown out proposals to introduce a new law which would have made it illegal to take unapproved videos or photographs of industrial farm animal production in the state.
The “Ag Gag” bill, which was openly backed by the industrial farming lobby, was promoted on the basis that it would help to improve animal welfare or protect family farms. But the stark reality is that this proposed law has absolutely nothing to do with animal welfare and was nothing more than Big Ag protecting its interests again, stealthily promoting legislation that would effectively make it a felony to attempt to expose the horrific practices that are going on behind the doors of industrial farms.
John Klimes began raising chickens in 1988 for 4-H in Kimberly, Idaho, where he was born and raised, just 25 miles from the farm he bought in 2008. His flock of Animal Welfare Approved laying hens are a mix of Barred Rock and Rhode Island Reds, which he hatches out on the farm, allowing his hens to do the work that heat lamps used to do in the farm’s earlier days.
Farmer Jim Dykes came to farming by way of the medical profession– or rather, by way out of it. Dykes left his medical practice after 30 years to farm. He explained simply: “Farming is also healing.” He continued, “I still do my ‘morning rounds’ – only now I’m looking after animals instead of people.”
Polaris Farm has been in Mark Hollar’s family since 1962, about the same time that he was born. In addition to cattle, which his family has always raised, in 2008 Mark began rotating sheep on the pasture his cattle had grazed to experiment with parasite reduction. Now, cattle and sheep are managed on Polaris Farm in a controlled grazing system where not only do the sheep eliminate the cattle’s parasites, but the cows do the same for the sheep. Polaris Farm animals are never confined or given hormones and live their entire lives grazing on pasture.
“When I came home from the hospital, I came home to a farm,” says Ben Deen, co-owner with his wife, Kellie, of Savannah River Farms in Sylvania, Georgia. Ben can trace livestock farming back in his family at least as far as his great-great-grandfather. When he was 15 years-old, he got a chance to try his hand at running the family farm on his own when his father left to work in Florida for a year. While other 15 year-olds may have resisted this responsibility, it was just the beginning of his lifelong love of raising animals. In 1986, after traveling the country for two years as long-haul truck-drivers, Kellie and Ben began buying the first parcels of the 100 acres they own now just 20 miles from the farm where he was born and raised.
Todd and Shereen Wilcox raise Animal Welfare Approved Saanen and LaMancha dairy goats in the hills of Pennsylvania at Ardith Mae Farm in Hallstead, PA. The goats enjoy the diverse, seasonal forage, which brings unique flavors to the cheese. In 2004, Todd and Shereen were still living in Brooklyn, NY and today, they’re making cheeses that have been called, “unparalleled” by Tasting Table and “one of the best goat’s milk cheeses of the season” by SlashFood.