The manipulation of the Shirley Sherrod video for partisan gain was not just an egregious injustice to Shirley Sherrod, it was an egregious injustice to all of America’s black farmers, to elderly black farmers in particular, to Dr. John Boyd, Jr. and the National Black Farmers Association (NBFA), and to the employees of the USDA and other governmental organizations who have worked to make amends for one of the most shameful periods in the history of American agriculture. Injustice is injustice wherever and whenever it occurs. Righting an injustice can be a long and thorny process, as Dr. Boyd, President of the NBFA, can attest. He has fought for years to get justice for black farmers who were victims of widespread, decades-long discrimination by the USDA. Finally triumphant, in 1999 and again in 2008, he won settlements from the government that will provide legions of now mostly elderly black farmers, victims of the blatant racism formerly displayed by the USDA, with the money they are rightfully owed. The Senate still won’t fund the 2008 settlement. The injustice continues. Animal Welfare Approved has long supported Dr. Boyd in his quest to see his fight brought to an end, especially since, as he often points out, the farmers for whom the settlement is intended are beginning to die. "I'm frustrated," Boyd said Thursday in an NPR interview. "I'm frustrated that I'm still begging for votes in the Senate for something that should have been done years ago.”
Although Hannah Sessions and Greg Bernhardt did not grow up in farming families, they were always drawn to the agrarian lifestyle because they enjoy physical labor and working with their hands. Also, “we felt like farming would also allow us more time together and with our kids,” explains Hannah. “It has turned out to be all of those things–and more.”
Today, Hannah and Greg raise Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) dairy goats at Blue Ledge Farm, a diverse 120-acre farm in the southern Champlain Valley of Vermont. The property consists of 50 acres in a conserved wetland state, 20 acres of wooded browse pasture, 30 acres of hay land, and 20 acres of open grass pasture. “When we first laid eyes on this farm we knew it was right for goats because of the vein of rocky ledge protruding throughout the pasture. Goats love to play on rocks, and they love a varied terrain,” says Hannah. Established in 2000, Blue Ledge Farm is home to roughly 130 Alpine and LaMancha dairy goats at any given time. The goats rotationally graze the pasture, giving the fields time to recover before the goats return. “Our animals have continual access to the outdoors and plenty of living space,” Hannah adds. “Their health and comfort is of our utmost concern.”
Hannah pursued Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW because she believes in what it stands for. “My feeling is that we work in partnership with the animals that we keep. While I ask a lot from my animals in terms of production, I never want to be exploitive in my relationship with them, and AWA gets this,” Hannah explains. “When I read through the list of requirements I felt like they made sense, and that it could have been farmers who came up with the standards. I hope that when consumers see the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW label on our cheese they trust that our animals are living good lives, and that their health and contentedness will come through in the quality of product we produce.”
Blue Ledge Farm Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW goat cheese is sold through a number of stores and distributors in New England and the East Coast, as well as California. Products are also available on their website, www.blueledgefarm.com. For more information about Blue Ledge Farm, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 802-247-0095.