Kitty Hockman-Nicholas raises Animal Welfare Approved Jersey cows that produce delicious, fresh milk on Hedgebrook Farm in Winchester, VA. Located at the top of the Shenandoah Valley with picturesque views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Hedgebrook was founded in 1907 and began as an apple orchard. In the 1940s it expanded into a dairy business, and today it remains the only farm with a glass-tubed milking machine in Virginia.
John Boyd, Jr., President of the National Black Farmers Association, is now more than ten years into his fight to see justice done for the farmers he represents. Boyd—who once had his loan application torn up in front of him by a USDA agent who later admitted he thought blacks “were lazy”—has been instrumental in compelling the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to own to up to decades of obvious discrimination against black farmers. This year, it appeared he was finally going to meet his goal. In February, the Department of Justice and the USDA announced a settlement with the black farmers, with the money to be allocated by Congress by March 31, 2010. It didn’t happen.
Instead, according to a CNN profile, Boyd found himself going to the funeral of another elderly black farmer who never received the money due him. According to CNN, Boyd, speaking at the farmer’s memorial service, said, “It really hurts to be here and have to deliver a message at Mr. Bonner’s going home services that Congress failed to act.”
By Andrew Gunther
| May 21, 2010
I’m going to stick my neck out here: I think we might just be seeing the beginning of the end of our love affair with genetically modified (GM) crops. Emerging science from both home and abroad is raising serious questions about the long-term risks of GM crops. And from what I can gather, mounting anecdotal evidence suggests that many U.S. farmers are beginning to regret ever setting eyes on the damn crops.
To be perfectly honest, I’m actually quite surprised at just how long this romance has lasted. Of course, the billions of dollars spent by the likes of Monsanto on PR, lobbying Congress and all the rest has certainly helped keep us all fixated on this glamorous technological panacea. But, like most whirlwind romances, our own niggling doubts and the sage advice from trusted sources (in this case independent scientists) is becoming difficult to ignore. Was it really all too good to be true?
Robert Kremer is beginning to think so. Kremer is a government microbiologist, based at the University of Missouri. He works for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service and has studied Midwestern farm soils for the last two decades. He is one of several scientists who have uncovered what appear to be hitherto unpredicted problems in plants and soils associated with the use of glyphosate-resistant GM crops and the glyphosate herbicide
By Andrew Gunther
| May 20, 2010
A recent paper published by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics reveals that exposure to Organophosphates (OPs) could result in a higher risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among children. My major concern is that we are not talking about children who came into direct contact with excessive amounts of OP; the results suggest that that exposure to OP is potentially harmful to U.S. children at levels that are commonly found in their immediate environment.
Organophosphates are one of the most widely used pesticides across the world. Among other things, they are used as insecticides on grains, fruit and vegetables, to control parasites on farm livestock and pets, and for fly control in industrial and commercial premises. You might think that a product that has been around for more than 60 years–and which is used so widely–is safe and has no side effects. But sadly this is not the case.
Janis Moore raises AWA laying hens in the hills of Vermont. Hens at TailGait Farm roam pastures freely, foraging for the freshest grass and other tasty treats that make the quality of eggs top notch. Research shows that pasture-raised eggs contain three times as much vitamin E, seven times more beta-carotene, and twice the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids as industrially produced eggs.
Ninny Nu’s Organic Farm by Tanya Sousa with illustrations by Amber Alexander (Radiant Hen Publishing) is a classic tale of farm animals competing to produce the best crop ever for the Mayor.
We are very proud to congratulate Animal Welfare Approved farmer, Bill Stuart, Jr. of Stuart Family Farm in Bridgewater, CT who has been selected to maintain Happy Landings in Brookfield, CT. Happy Landings is made up of nearly 50 acres of farmland that, according to both Stuart and the Brookfield Conservation Commission, has not been very well taken care of in recent years. Stuart said in order to “get it back in farm shape” he’ll have to get the native grasses back, eliminate the weeds that have overtaken the land and add quite a bit of lime to the soil in order to neutralize its high acidity.
The land’s sole use will be for hay making. Bill is very excited about the opportunity to become the steward of the property because he says, “it will be a huge benefit to the local community. It’s going to be a completely sustainable local food system.” Stuart Family Farm already feeds 250-300 Connecticut families and many of them are living in Brookfield.
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, 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.
Talk about a waste of time on top of a waste of money. Three senators recently sent a letter to the USDA leadership to protest that a paltry $65 million from an agribusiness support fund of $307 billion (i.e., the 2008-2012 U.S. Farm Bill) went to groups trying to supply tax-paying customers the healthy, safe, nutritious food they demanded from local American farmers. Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), John McCain (R-AZ) and Pat Roberts (R-KS) wrote to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack expressing their “serious misgivings” regarding the new USDA initiative, “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” (KYF2). They charged that the program’s measures were “completely detached from the realities of production agriculture” and accused it of prioritizing locovore markets “at the expense of rural communities with documented rural development needs.”
Am I missing something here? According to the 2000 census, nearly 80% of the U.S. population (i.e., eaters) live in urban areas – wouldn’t it make sense to focus our resources there? Though farms may be located in rural areas, their markets are by and large where the people are – in cities. The major beneficiaries of government funding to date have not been farmers but big business and shareholders. Government payments that facilitate production below the market value help the company, not the producer.
Kozen Sampson raises Animal Welfare Approved laying hens on his organic farm in the Trout Lake Abbey Retreat in Trout Lake, Washington. Located at the base of Mount Adams on 23 acres, Trout Lake Abbey has three breeds of chickens: Silver Laced Wyandottes, White Orpingtons, and Light Brahmas. All three breeds produce nutritious and delicious brown eggs. The Trout Lake Abbey chickens roam as they please on pasture and fed organic grains, fruits, and vegetables that are grown on the farm. They are never given hormones or unnecessary antibiotics.