Many people are unaware that 80% of all antimicrobial drugs are administered to animals. Unfortunately, this fact shouldn’t come as much of a surprise; the Union of Concerned Scientists provided the same stat ten years ago in the 2001 report, Hogging It: Estimates of Antimicrobial Use in Livestock. Of course, industry has since ignored and/or rejected this figure every chance they’ve had. But despite the best efforts of Agribiz, as this week’s press release from Congresswoman Louise Slaughter reports, the FDA has officially confirmed the 80% figure; check it out. I should note that our friend Ralph Loglisci of the Johns Hopkins University Center for a Livable Future contacted the FDA back in December and was given the same numbers (he wrote an excellent post about this, which is absolutely worth reading). Nonetheless, it seems significant that the antibiotics stats have been released to and publicized by a congressperson. Very official, we think – and hopefully capable of capturing the nation’s attention.
Greg, Laurie, Bradley and Lisha Newhall, together with their partners and longtime friends, Gary and Nancy Jones, raise Animal Welfare Approved beef cattle, pigs, meat sheep, meat goats, turkeys, ducks for eggs, and chickens for meat and eggs–making Windy N Ranch in Ellensburg, Washington, the first farm in the AWA program to be approved for eight separate livestock species! If that were not enough they also have pheasants.
Farming is a second career for the Newhalls and Joneses. They began farming in 2004 when they bought 1,000 acres of land in Ellensburg. “We broke the cardinal rule,” Greg says with a laugh. “We fell in love with our investment. We started out just producing hay, then added chickens a year or two later, and then things really got out of control with beef cattle, pigs, sheep, turkeys, goats, and now ducks!”
Part of the reason the Newhalls and Joneses have continued to add species is their vision of the ranch as a one-stop operation that would allow their customers to get all their animal products from one farm. “We hoped that customers would adventure into other species if they began eating just one and we’ve had a great reception with clients eating something they haven’t tried before, like goat,” says Greg. “It’s a natural selling opportunity. Once they’re sold on the ranch and how we operate, with AWA being part of it, then getting alternate meat sales is easy.”
Having come to farming later in life Greg, Gary and their families hope to continually improve their animal husbandry practices, which is one of the reasons Windy N Ranch sought AWA certification. “We are trying to learn as quickly as possible from every source we can,” Greg says. “At the beginning I just thought AWA was a reasonable and credible certification to get, but now as I have more and more interactions with AWA staff, my respect and appreciation for the program has grown. I think what you do is unparalleled in the industry in terms of how AWA promotes high-welfare farmers, and the quality of inspectors. We are huge AWA flag-wavers. This certification is simply without a peer in the industry.”
In spring 2015, Windy N Ranch achieved another first, becoming the first farm in Washington state to become Certified Grassfed by AGW for its sheep and goats. This is the only certification and logo in the U.S. and Canada that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards on an independent family farm. Explaining why the farm decided to add the grassfed certification, Greg says: “The push right now is for a grassfed animal in order to get the taste and health benefits that come with it, like low saturated fat and high conjugated linoleic acids. The fact that AWA has real credibility, and can offer grassfed certification to compliment what they’re already doing on the animal welfare side, makes it one complete package for the farmer.”
Windy N Ranch welcomes prearranged tours of the ranch. Meat and eggs are available from retail locations and farmers’ markets across the region. To find Windy N Ranch’s AWA and Certified Grassfed by AGW products, or more information about the ranch, visit www.windynranch.com, or contact them at greg@windyNranch.com and 509-962-4873.