| February 6, 2013
It’s a well-known PR tactic to release bad or potentially unpopular news during the Holiday Season. So I always keep my eyes peeled to catch any news releases that might otherwise slip the net. I didn’t have to wait long.
On December 21, when most people were focusing on their upcoming festivities, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) quietly released its draft environmental assessment on the highly controversial genetically engineered (GE) salmon, created by AquaBounty Technologies Inc.
Donna Schauer, a lawyer and magistrate judge, grew up with horses and raising lambs. When her two oldest daughters were young, their family continued to raise animals, but this time horses and poultry. Despite her passion for country living, her profession kept her in the city for many years – until 2004, when she bought land in rural Dallas County, Iowa, and established Sunny Silver Maple Farm.
| January 30, 2013
As I join the 110 million or so Americans who will watch the San Francisco 49ers take on the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday, we will collectively chomp our way through an incredible 1.23 billion chicken wings, plus millions of burgers, hot dogs and steaks. That’s a staggering amount of meat.
While both Dana Tryde and Eric Michielssen had grandparents that worked the land, their parents chose to leave the family farms. But when the couple first met in 1999, Dana and Eric quickly learned of their similar family legacies and their shared interest in returning to the land. In 2002, they established Clark Valley Farm and Horse Boarding in Los Osos, California, where they ran a diverse organic produce operation and sustainably-managed horse facility. In 2010, they settled at Pozo Organic Farm in the tiny community of Pozo, 25 miles east of San Luis Obispo. In addition to the horses that Dana and Eric brought from the old farm and the row crops, berries, and fruit trees they are growing, the farm is now home to a flock of Animal Welfare Approved laying hens.
| January 10, 2013
We know that most of the world’s hungry live in the developing nations in the South. They are hungry because they cannot afford to buy food or grow it themselves, usually because of poverty, but also due to conflict, poor infrastructure, poor agricultural practices, and the over-exploitation of the environment, among other things. They are also hungry because much of their agricultural production is focused on generating food and livestock feed to supply Western markets. Recent price rises caused by harvest failures, commodity speculation, and the diversion of grain to produce biofuels over recent years have hardly helped matters (see for example Tom Philpott’s excellent blog on the horrendous impact U.S. biofuels policy is having on global food prices – and hunger).
| December 21, 2012
As the year comes to an end it’s become a tradition of mine to write a note of gratitude to Big Ag for the many ‘gifts’ they’ve given us throughout the year that we didn’t really want, need or – in some cases – didn’t even know about. Here’s my top 10 for 2012…
#10 – Undermining Organic With Industrial Practices
Many people are putting their faith in the “certified organic” label as an easy way to support farming systems that care about animal welfare, our health and the health of the planet. But the popularity of organic food is attracting industrial-scale operators who are exploiting the organic regulations for their own short-term gains. In October, news broke that a large-scale “organic” egg producer was being sued for making misleading marketing claims about the welfare of its chickens. Judy’s Family Farm Organic Eggs’ cartons feature images of hens roaming on green fields, while the carton explains the hens are “raised in wide open spaces in Sonoma Valley, where they are free to ‘roam, scratch, and play’.” Yet it’s alleged that the birds are kept in covered sheds with no outdoor access, misleading consumers. Sadly, this isn’t an isolated incident…
By Animal Welfare Approved
| December 20, 2012
Debbie and Brien Campbell have been raising livestock and growing produce on for themselves and friends since 1989. But while Debbie holds an agricultural science degree and Brien’s father, Dan, has owned a hay business his whole life, the couple both worked elsewhere to support the farm and their family of nine. In 2008, the couple purchased Hog and Dogs Ranch/Produce in Herlad, California and when Debbie was recently laid off, the family decided to put all their efforts into the family ranch.
By Animal Welfare Approved
| December 11, 2012
Joseph Baxley is the fourth generation of his family to farm the 80 acres where he and his wife, Melissa, raise Animal Welfare Approved hair sheep and hog breeding stock with the help of their children, Jonathon and Megan. Situated outside of Samson, Alabama, JMB Farms has been in Baxley family for almost 100 years.
| November 28, 2012
In a recent test of pork chop and ground-pork samples from six U.S. cities, Consumer Reports found low levels of ractopamine in almost one-fifth of the 240 pork products analyzed, as well as a range of other nasties – including several strains of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
Ractopamine is a growth promoter drug. It is widely used on intensive livestock farms in the U.S. because it increases the rate of weight gain and carcass leanness in pigs, cattle and turkey. It’s estimated that up to 80 percent of the U.S. pig herd is fed the drug every year. Of course, the drug doesn’t come without its costs.
By Animal Welfare Approved
| November 20, 2012
Tony and Sue Marzolino raise their AWA-certified laying hens on Marz Farm in Berkshire, NY. Sitting at the southern tip of the Finger Lakes region in upstate NY, the land has been actively farmed since 1887. The newest owners, Tony and Sue, raise their hens on pasture following the highest welfare standards in the U.S. and sell the eggs locally. They also grow organic hay and vegetables on the farm. For more information, visit the farm’s website at www.marzfarm.com.