Cynthia Glasscoe 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.” Today, she raises AWA Certified laying hens and sheep at The Billy Place in the foothills of North Carolina. The farm is also a Certified AWA source farm for sheep, meaning Cynthia can sell breeding ewes to other Certified AWA farms, for example.
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.
By Andrew Gunther
| 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 over four years for somewhere to raise their family and start a farm before buying their 170-acre property in Red House, West Virginia, in 2005. Larry and Melissa’s mission when establishing Ittle Bitty Farms was to grow food for their family, share their bounty with their local community, and create an educational 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.
By Andrew Gunther
| July 5, 2011
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?