Rumors swirled that 1,200 people were expected at the Brooklyn Food Conference (BFC) on Saturday, May 2 at John Jay High School in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We were certainly surprised to find a projected 3,000 people in attendance and we even ran out of most of our materials! It was an honor to be invited to speak on the panel, "Our industrial meat complex: Hazardous to our health and our habitat" moderated by Kerry Trueman (co-founder of EatingLiberally.org) and to present testimony at the Public Hearing on Food Policy and Implementation with State and City Elected Officials. Animal Welfare Approved staffer Brigid Sweeney presented on behalf of independent pasture-based and high welfare farmers before State Senator Eric Adams, State Assembly member Jim Brennan, State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and City Council Member Leticia James. The public hearing was moderated by David Buckel, civil rights attorney and BFC volunteer organizer, who is determined to make Animal Welfare Approved's voice heard for New York's legislative agenda.
Paul and Marisa Maggio raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) beef cattle at Starry Nights Farm in Burlington, Wisconsin, about 40 miles southwest of Milwaukee and 60 miles northwest of Chicago.
Before farming, Paul worked at a brokerage firm for over 25 years. In 2012, he decided he wanted to buy land as an investment near his hometown of Kenosha. Initially, the couple intended to rent out the land to other farmers, but Marisa and Paul soon gained an interest in farming themselves. After two years, they bought their first cattle; by the end of 2015, the couple became full-time farmers. Their friend and mentor, Altfrid Krusenbaum, and neighbor, Butch Lois, have both been tremendously helpful as the couple got their start with farming.
The 140-acre farm consists of rolling hills of pasture, with some woods scattered throughout. As the land borders a 250-acre park and a 1,000-acre wetland, the property feels very remote, although the farm is quite close to both Milwaukee and Chicago. The herd of over 100 cattle at Starry Nights Farm is made up of a variety of traditional English cattle breeds, including Hereford, Angus, Galloway and Shorthorn. These breeds are known for producing high-quality beef and the cattle do very well on a grass- and forage-only diet. Health is the key foundation for the farming practices at Starry Nights Farm. “Soil health, plant health, animal health, community health and family health,” explains Paul. “At all times, these are our focus and guiding principles.”
The cattle at Starry Nights Farm are also Certified Grassfed by AGW, the only certification and logo in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees that food products originate from animals fed a 100 percent grass and forage fed, raised outdoors on pastures or range for their entire lives, and are managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm.
While they are Certified Organic, Paul explains that they decided to become Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW and Certified Grassfed by AGW because they wanted to be able to assure their customers of their high-welfare farming practices through a third-party certification: “We believe in giving our animals the best life at Starry Nights Farm, and to manage our land sustainably. We’re happy to have the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW and Certified Grassfed by AGW labels to keep us accountable and for our clients to trust. High welfare management of our animals is part of our mission and we will always treat them with as much love and respect as they deserve.”
Starry Nights Farm sells Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW, Certified Grassfed by AGW beef directly from the farm. Contact Starry Nights Farm at email@example.com. For more information, visit starrynightsfarm.com or find the farm on Facebook at facebook.com/starrynightsfarm and Instagram @starrynightsfarm.