Cynthia Glasscoe raises Animal Welfare Approved laying hens at The Billy Place in the foothills of North Carolina. The farm is also an Animal Welfare Approved source farm for sheep. Cynthia has been farming all of her life. Her family raised 500-600 hogs on pasture when she was growing up – “It was just what everybody did.” She now raises 130 mixed traditional breed laying hens on pasture for their tasty eggs.
Is presidential candidate Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) attack on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) settlement with African American farmers racist? Bachmann is coming under increasing fire for characterizing a settlement to black farmers who were discriminated against as mass “fraud.”
For years, black farmers alleged that they were being denied USDA farm loans or that they were forced to wait longer for loan approval than other non-minority farmers. Some contended that they endured foreclosure and financial ruin as a direct result.
Following a class action lawsuit that was initiated back in 1997 – the so-called Pigford Cases – a U.S. Court has established that between 1983 and 1997 the USDA discriminated against black farmers who applied for farm loans and other assistance on the basis of their race, and that the USDA also failed subsequently to investigate or properly respond to complaints. Following this unequivocal ruling you would think that all efforts would now turn to addressing this injustice as swiftly as possible for the thousands of individuals and families who were wronged.
| July 13, 2011
A recent press release issued by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and United Egg Producers (UEP) may have caught your eye. The press release heralds an “historic” new agreement on future egg production between HSUS and UEP, an industry body which represents 80% of all U.S. egg producers. A strange union, you might think, for two organizations normally at odds. So what exactly is this agreement about?
In his blog, HSUS president Wayne Pacelle says that the “landmark agreement” will “help millions of hens.” HSUS has been calling for cage-free egg production for years, so an agreement to end all caged egg production would represent an enormous advancement in welfare. Sadly for the hens, that isn’t the basis of this agreement. In defiance of common sense, and all previously expressed opinion, HSUS has achieved nothing more than an agreement to work with UEP towards new legislation which will move hens out of one type of battery cage into a another slightly larger cage. An historic welfare advancement? I think not.
Sarah and Tim Haws “jumped into” farming in 2001 in Seneca County, New York, near Tim’s hometown of Waterloo. Their Animal Welfare Approved cattle and pigs are truly pasture raised, producing meat that is healthier for consumers in a system that is better for the environment and the animals.
Larry and Melissa Lewis searched for four years and tried (and failed) to work with eight banks before they bought a 170-acre property in 2005 where they could raise their family and start a farm. Larry and Melissa’s mission when establishing Ittle Bitty Farms was to grow food for their family, be able to share their bounty with their local community, and create a teaching farm where people could learn how to grow their own food. Now, their five children are being raised on Ittle Bitty Farms, where they are experiencing real farm life and participating in the daily operations of the farm, each one taking responsibility for a different part of the animal care or farm management.
Tel Jensen and his sister and “accomplice” Hillary Jensen raise Animal Welfare Approved laying hens at Pikku Farm in Woodland, WA. Tel and Hillary’s family has been farming for nearly 100 years. They are the fifth generation to work on the land in Woodland, WA. When asked about his farming background, Tel said “I spent a lot of time on my grandparents’ farm growing up. For ten years, I farmed with good friends of mine on their place in Fall City, Washington. Now, I’m back at my grandparents’ for good.”
In a press statement conveniently released just before the busy holiday weekend, the USDA stated that Scotts Miracle Gro’s introduction of a new GM Kentucky bluegrass seed did not require any regulation. Despite ongoing protests and legal challenges from environmental groups, land managers, federal agencies and other organizations, the USDA’s decision paves the way for the unregulated use of GM lawn seed in U.S. neighborhoods – and a potentially dramatic increase in the use of a toxic herbicide that is increasingly being linked to adverse impacts on human health and the wider environment.
The introduction of GM glyphosate-resistant Kentucky bluegrass will force us all to become subjects of an experiment that should have happened in the USDA’s laboratories – not in our lawns, backyards, in our local neighborhoods, and in parks where our kids play. This experiment will further increase the use of this toxic herbicide, and will inevitably lead to the cross-pollination with wild relatives and the many environmental problems this will entail. The potential human health impacts have yet to be discovered, but I know I would plow my lawn up if I thought this seed was in it. For the sake of a few weeds, are the potential risks of GM lawns really worth it?
Marc and Meredith Moran along with their children Matthew, Sarah and Will raise Animal Welfare Approved beef cattle (Chianina and Hereford), sheep (Dorset, Romney and Lincolns) and pigs (Landrace) at Hopewell Farms in Newbury, NH.