Food Democracy Now's Dave Murphy has brought to our attention today's deadline for closing a loophole that allows subsidy payments for large corporations. Murphy says of these subsidies, "As part of his 2010 budget, the President proposed phasing-out direct payments in an attempt to save $9.8 billion over 10 years. Currently direct payments, which total $5.2 billion a year, are paid regardless of crop prices and are not tied to need. This means: Even in times of high commodity prices, corporate farmers still get a paycheck from the government...Today's current subsidy system allows large corporate farms to take advantage of subsidy loopholes that place independent family farmers at a serious competitive disadvantage."
Susan Mead’s great grandfather was a farmer in Maine, but his love of farming skipped a couple generations. Although Susan grew up in a suburb of Chicago, she yearned for the country life. When she earned enough money, she “bought a horse and that was that!” For the next 20 years, Susan managed barns, trained horses, taught lessons and was a vagabond. Now, almost 40 years later, she has her own farm where she raises Certified Animal Welfare Approved by A Greener World (AGW) laying hens.
Stilmour Farm, Susan’s “farmette,” as she calls it, is located in Hood River, Oregon, on extremely steep terrain. The property is zoned forest but due to her status in the county’s farming program she can operate the 2.5-acre piece of land as a farm.
Susan believes that raising chickens outdoors, where they are free to roam and perform natural behaviors like running, dust bathing, pecking and scratching for grubs and seeds, gives them the most healthy and happy life possible. “They get to frolic in the sunshine and eat bugs and worms,” she says. “Pasture-based management ensures they have access to natural foods and nutrients they would not necessarily receive in pelleted feed alone.”
That is one reason Susan chose to become Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW: to show her customers she’s raising her chickens outdoors on pasture according to the highest welfare and environmental standards. “Ensuring a good life for the animals in my care is paramount,” she says. “I wanted to put my money where my mouth is when I speak to people about how animals are treated in conventional systems. I hope my Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW certification appeals to those who are looking for delicious, pasture-raised eggs that come from happy and healthy hens.”
Susan’s long-term goals include expanding the number of chickens she raises and promoting the ethical treatment of animals: “I am just one person running the farm so I don’t envision becoming a large commercial operation, but I’d like to continue providing high-quality eggs to my local community and raise awareness of the benefits of pasture-based farming.”
Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW pasture-raised chicken eggs from Stilmour Farm are available seasonally at the Hood River Farmers’ Market. Susan also offers delivery service for local customers. For more information, contact Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.