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.
Morning Breeze Farm has been in Hunter Strebig’s family since the early 1900s. “Until 1998 it was a dairy farm run by my grandparents,” says Hunter. “I took over the farm and converted it into a cow calf beef farm. The farm consists of 80 acres of gentle rolling hills, with pastures extending across 60 acres—perfect for grazing our herd of grassfed beef cattle.” In addition to being Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW), the beef cattle herd at Morning Breeze Farm is Certified Grassfed by AGW, the first—and only—food label in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, and raised entirely outdoors on pasture or range.
Hunter, along with the help of Maggie Elliott, manages a herd of AGW-certified Murray Gray and Black Angus cattle. “The Murray Gray cattle are a good fit for the rotational grazing because they grow efficiently on pasture and are calm, gentle animals. We have approximately 20 cow calf pairs.” The cows at Morning Breeze Farm are rotationally managed, grazing one section of pasture before being moved to fresh fields. This type of management allows grass to recover before cows return to graze again; it also keeps the soil properly fertilized and minimizes the build-up of internal parasites, thereby avoiding reliance on chemical treatments. “Rotational grazing both benefits our cows and the land,” says Hunter. “Carefully managing the pasture helps us ensure the cattle are eating quality forage which leads to high quality meat. Pasturing the cattle also allows them to enjoy a low stress lifestyle, and the Murray Gray and Angus cattle grow very well on pastures.”
Hunter chose to pursue certification with A Greener World because certification is a primary component of the farm’s marketing strategy. “Earning our certification through A Greener World will help us to better market our beef. Our customers can trust the certification especially because A Greener World is a well-known, third party organization.”
In the future, Hunter and Maggie plan to continue to grow their herd and possibly raise other types of animals using pasture-based management.
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW beef from Morning Breeze Farm can be purchased directly from the farm by appointment. For more information, contact Hunter Strebig at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow the farm on Facebook.