Jan 31, 2012

The incredible/regrettable egg bill-Which is it?

My incredibly talented husband has a gift of words. He gets to tell Agriculture's story every day the good and the bad. This is one of those issues that may inspire varying views, depending on who you are and what you do. Matt wrote this about HR 3798

H.R. 3798 has been introduced by Reps. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., Jeff Denham, R-Calif., Elton Gallegly, R-Calif, and Sam Farr, D-Calif. The bill will require egg producers to essentially double the space allotted per hen and make other changes during a tiered phase-in period that allows farmers time to make the investments in better housing, with the assurance that all will face the same requirements by the end of the phase-in period.

Here are my thoughts.

I have a more hands off approach when it comes to government regulations and control. As farmer producers we know what is best for our livestock or our crops and we want to do what is best for our end product no matter what it may be. Sometimes being more open minded and making a tough decision which seems unnecessary at the time is for the greater good not so far down the road.

This issue is a tough one because it involves animals and what is defined as best standard of care coming from a group that most generally we do not support. There are many years of science based research and on farm experiences concerning what environments are best for the most happy and healthy animals before they enter our food chain. Ohio is the #2 state in egg production and supports this Federal Bill. A mentor of mine who happens to be the Executive Director of the Ohio Poultry Association Jim Chakeres shares this thoughts and the thoughts of egg producers in Ohio.

“Ohio egg farmers and processors strongly support federal legislation introduced on January 23, 2012 to amend the Egg Product Inspection Act. HR 3798 will provide for uniform standards for laying hen housing and care – a measure that is needed and will benefit our state’s egg industry. The Egg Products Inspection Act was chosen as the vehicle to carry these changes because the issues addressed in the legislation are specific to our industry; that is why this Act is the appropriate place to implement them,” “While all egg farmers are committed to excellent care of their flocks, rules for how egg-laying hens are housed vary greatly across states. Individual states have enacted housing restrictions via legislative process or ballot initiatives. Challenges in other states are currently underway. More of these changes will continue to occur without a national solution.
“Because the egg market is national in scope, this patchwork approach to the regulation of hen housing means there is no standardization across states. Ohio is the second-largest egg producing state in the nation. Our farms market eggs into virtually every state, and without a uniform standard, farmers could be forced to have a separate barn for each state or region that receives Ohio eggs. HR 3798 will provide the framework to maintain the viability of Ohio’s egg farms and to ensure our state’s farmers can continue to produce safe, affordable, high-quality eggs.”

For the full story: The incredible/regrettable egg bill — which is it? That depends on who you ask. American consumers overwhelmingly support the national legislation regarding egg production that was introduced last week in Congress. What do you think?

Jan 5, 2012

Days like these I wish I were a Pig!

The cold North wind blows and the temperature says 17 degrees. I bundle up in my winter farm gear and head out to the barn. Winter gear in Ohio has nothing on the Northern states but it is still cold. The barn water has frozen for the first time and this makes chores take some extra time. Winter guests at our house are familiar with 5 gallon buckets lined up in the entry way along with our family’s barn boots and coats. Not ideal for a girl who likes everything to look just right, but for winter it is a necessity.

The sheep have wool to keep them warm and stay in the barn most of the time, the rabbits are in the barn and the chickens have a clean coop with extra straw in their nesting boxes and thank goodness for the heated water, it cuts off lots of chore time not having to crack more ice. Our animals have it good, but I think they all would like to be hogs in their climate-controlled barn that I recently got to tour.

Through the Ohio Farm Bureau AgriPower Porgram, I got to visit the Standing Oaks Enterprise. Carol Wildman, who is in my class, and her husband own and operated this hog farm. It had been many years since I have been at a larger scale hog facility. We divided up in our 3 groups and set out for a few different areas of their family farm. They were kind enough to allow us to take photos.

We saw them do some artificial insemination, we saw some baby pigs that were just a few days old and then also saw castration. Each area was fascinating and to see the family work together and move so many hogs though their facility from start to finish was just eye opening. There is nothing better than working on a farm doing something you love or have a passion for.

I am a very hands-on person. I am not afraid of much and always want to try new things. They allowed us to see how they dock tails on the little pigs and how they AI (artificially inseminate) the sows (female pig). I must say it was quite exciting for me to AI a sow. I am very excited to find out how many pigs the sow has.

What is so impressive to me when I visit larger production farms is how clean and temperate the barns are. These hogs are kept at the same 70-degree temperature year round. They do not have to worry about rain, snow, wind or hail. Some people wonder why they have to be kept inside all the time. The answer is simple, for their protection! Their environment can be controlled and this takes away so many worries for disease, temperature changes and environmental conditions. When you step outside and the wind and cold air chills your bones, you may wish you were a pig too!

Jan 3, 2012

Ohio CommonGround Volunteers talk with Town Hall Ohio

We had a great time talking with Chip Nelson from Ohio Farm Bureau Federation. We talked about what CommonGround stands for, our farming operations and how you can get involved in the movement.  What a great way for us to share our stories and help put a face to food.

CommonGround Radio on Town Hall Ohio