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.
Dustin Cheatham raises Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) laying hens on pasture at Pop’s Organics in Lufkin, Texas.
Dustin recently returned to the land where he learned to farm, and started Pop’s Organics. “I am a third generation, small-scale farmer,” says Dustin. “I was lucky enough to have a father and grandfather who taught me how to work the land.”
Pop’s Organics is located on 33 acres in the Piney Woods of East Texas, and over half the land is covered in thickly wooded forest. Dustin raises Rhode Island Reds, which are well suited to the Texas climate and thrive outdoors on pasture. Research shows that pasture-based management is not only better for animal welfare, but results in tasty and nutritious eggs with more beta carotene and higher levels of beneficial conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) and omega-3 fatty acids when compared to conventional eggs.
Achieving a truly sustainable farming model is important to Dustin and, in time, he hopes to restore the land to the condition he remembers when growing up. Dustin chose Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW certification because he felt it reflected the values and practices that were passed on to him by his family: “I sought out Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW because it shares the same important farming values that my grandfather and father shared with me,” Dustin explains. “As an approved farmer, I’m able to share the same values with others who see the importance of sustainable, high-welfare farming.”
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pasture-raised chicken eggs from Pop’s Organics are currently available direct from the farm Monday to Saturday, 8 AM to 7 PM. For more information, contact Dustin at firstname.lastname@example.org and 832-407-2781.