Steve and Marci Jacobs, along with their twin sons and daughter, raise Animal Welfare Approved registered Angus and Angus cross cattle in Healdsburg, CA. Both Steve and Marci have been in agriculture most of their lives and are graduates from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. It was a natural fit for them to start their own farm with their family’s old line lineage of beef cattle that has been in the family for generations.
By Andrew Gunther
| March 17, 2011
Did you know that a number of U.S. states have introduced a draconian law that effectively bans photography at certain designated sites? And that two other states are apparently proposing to introduce it? You might wonder what state secret or national asset these new laws are designed to protect, or which high-powered individuals will be shielded from prying eyes?
The truth is that this legislation is nothing more than a prohibition of unapproved photography of farms. Yes, believe it or not, farms! Big Ag is protecting its interests again, stealthily promoting legislation that effectively makes it illegal to take unapproved photographs of industrial farm animal production. This is the same Big Ag which has lied to us all for years–trying to persuade us that GM is safe, that pesticides are not polluting our watercourses, that feedlots do not add to greenhouse gas, and that all industrial farm animal production is both safe and humane.
In 1993, as a newly engaged couple, Kathy and Ken Lindner discussed the possibility of raising bison together in their retirement based on a very memorable bison burger Kathy had eaten six years earlier. After four years of research, they bought their first bison at the industry’s highest price point and over the next decade, watched commercial breeders go out of business as prices steadily decreased.
Fifth generation family farmer Anthony Koch, along with his children and grandchildren, raise Certified Grassfed by AWA cattle on pasture at Koch Ranches in Frio and Medina counties in Texas.
By Andrew Gunther
| March 11, 2011
Two starkly different reports have come out recently on the future of farming. A recent series in the Economist touts industrialized farming as the only way to feed the world as our population swells beyond nine billion people by 2050. But a new report from the United Nations says farmers can meet growing demand using ecologically sound agricultural methods. The world body has released a study that calls for a fundamental shift towards what it calls agroecology as a way to boost production. “To feed nine billion people in 2050, we urgently need to adopt the most efficient farming techniques available,” says Olivier De Schutter, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the right to food and author of the report. “Today’s scientific evidence demonstrates that agroecological methods outperform the use of chemical fertilizers in boosting food production where the hungry live –especially in unfavorable environments.”
De Schutter is right. Farming that relies on inputs that destroy the atmosphere, pollute our drinking water, make our antibiotics ineffective and treat workers, communities and animals as garbage, is not a viable option for the future.
Berea College raises Animal Welfare Approved beef cattle and pigs in the rolling hills of Kentucky. Pasture-based husbandry is part of a long tradition that Berea has recently revived. While Berea College began in 1855, the farm program started in 1870 as a way to produce food for students and staff. At the time the college was largely self-sufficient. “Everyone worked,” says current Farms Manager Bob Harned. Over ten acres of garden, pastures and a creamery supplied most of the food needed. In time, however, the focus shifted to off-farm suppliers as less expensive alternatives became available.
By Andrew Gunther
| March 4, 2011
When news broke last week that a leading U.S. scientist had written to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to warn of a potential new threat linked to Roundup Ready GM crops, it didn’t take long for Monsanto’s PR machine to kick into gear.
Dr. Don Huber – Professor Emeritus of Plant Pathology at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, with more than 40 years experience as a plant pathologist – wrote to the USDA in January to call for a delay in the approval of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Alfalfa. He was concerned about preliminary evidence that he had seen of a new “microscopic pathogen that appears to significantly impact the health of plants, animals, and probably human beings” that could be linked to GM agriculture – and particularly the use of glyphosate herbicide (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup).
Charles Taft raises AWA sheep breeding stock and laying hens in the foothills of North Carolina. He has been raising sheep for over two decades, but was introduced to the St Croix hair sheep breed 11 years ago by The Livestock Conservancy (www.livestockconservancy.org). “I was attracted to the concept of preserving an endangered breed and started my breeding flock of St. Croix hair sheep in 2006,” Charles explains. “Since that time we have had over 260 registered new lambs, which we sell to other farms to establish new flocks.” A flock of 60 St. Croix sheep now grazes the farm’s pastures. The breed is particularly suitable for small family farms. The St. Croix hair sheep requires no shearing and has good natural parasite resistance and the ewes are attentive mothers.