Via RealMilk.com, Arkansas has now legalized on-farm sales of raw cow and goat milk:
Beginning in July 2013, Arkansas farms will be allowed to sell up to 500 gallons of unpasteurized cow milk per month, and up to 500 gallons of unpasteurized goat milk per month, directly to consumers. It will still be illegal to sell unpasteurized milk at farmers markets or other retail outlets. Under the new law, farmers will be required to post a sign on the farm and label unpasteurized products with a standardized label noting that the milk is unpasteurized. Neither the farm nor the cows will be inspected by the state, and the buyer assumes all liability should any health problems arise from consuming the raw milk.
This new law is not only exciting for the consumers who rely on raw milk’s nutrients for health benefits, but also for the farmers who see economic opportunity in taking advantage of the emerging raw milk market – raw milk often sells for $6-$8 per gallon. As the market continues to evolve and more farms begin to offer unpasteurized products, it will be interesting to see where costs stabilize and how farms brand themselves to stand out from the herd.
Read the full story.
(Photo ©2013 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette)
The Boston Globe profiles Vermont Farmstead, a farm and cheesemaker that was started to save the land from development, and is now producing award-winning cheeses (You can see my review of their Lille Cheese, pictured above, here).
SOUTH WOODSTOCK, Vt. — Perched on a hill overlooking a valley, Farmstead Cheese Co. began as a neighborly plan to preserve a dairy farm.
The bucolic 18-acre site was a former water buffalo farm and creamery that produced mozzarella and yogurt. When its owners moved to Canada and put the land up for sale, locals worried about the loss of jobs and the disappearance of another bit of the Green Mountain State’s rich heritage. They feared that the pastoral landscape might be grabbed by a developer.
So 14 neighbors banded together to buy the farm and decided cheese making might safeguard its future. Within the year, they rebuilt the creamery, brought in a mixed breed herd — Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire, and Swiss Brown — to blend milks and make farmstead cheese. They started the first community-owned dairy farm in the state. In two years, the company has won dozens of awards for its cheddar, a harvarti-style tilsit, Edam, and English and French-style cheeses.
The new owners are not novices. They include seasoned farmers and food industry executives who hired experienced staff. The top cheese maker, Rick Woods, 46, has been plying his craft for 19 years. “We’re a new company, but it’s not the first time around the block for these people,” says Sharon Huntley, who is in charge of marketing.
Read the full story.
Being up in Burlington, Vermont at the moment (taking VIAC classes in order to complete my certification), I thought this story, of a Vermont farmer and his dreams of delivering produce to NYC via boat, was apropos. Via Inhabitat:
Vermont farmer Erik Andrus wants to bring an entirely new approach to the growing farm-to-table food trend by sailing his produce down the Hudson River to NYC. Andrus recently launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes of funding a $15,000 project to build a sailboat named Ceres – the Roman goddess of grain and agriculture – to get his idea off the ground and into the water. If successful, the model could be a new way for consumers and restaurants to purchase fresh food directly from independent farmers and growers.
Check out the Kickstarter Campaign to learn more about this “sail-powered food-trading adventure connecting the farms and forests of Lake Champlain with the Lower Hudson Valley”.
At the Wisconsin Farmer’s Union Facebook page, a sobering chart showing us what farmer’s actually get for the labor.
Via the New York Times, the story of an Indiana dairy that is finding innovative, eco-friendly uses for its endless supply of cow manure:
FAIR OAKS, Ind. — Here at one of the largest dairy farms in the country, electricity generated using an endless supply of manure runs the equipment to milk around 30,000 cows three times a day.
For years, the farm has used livestock waste to create enough natural gas to power 10 barns, a cheese factory, a cafe, a gift shop and a maze of child-friendly exhibits about the world of dairy, including a 4D movie theater.
All that, and Fair Oaks Farms was still using only about half of the five million pounds of cow manure it vacuumed up from its barn floors on a daily basis. It burned off the excess methane, wasted energy sacrificed to the sky.
But not anymore.
The farm is now turning the extra manure into fuel for its delivery trucks, powering 42 tractor-trailers that make daily runs to raw milk processing plants in Indiana, Kentucky and Tennessee. Officials from the federal Department of Energy called the endeavor a “pacesetter” for the dairy industry, and said it was the largest natural gas fleet using agricultural waste to drive this nation’s roads.
“As long as we keep milking cows, we never run out of gas,” said Gary Corbett, chief executive of Fair Oaks, which held a ribbon-cutting event for the project this month and opened two fueling stations to the public.
“We are one user, and we’re taking two million gallons of diesel off the highway each year,” he said. “That’s a big deal.”
read the full story.
There’s been much in the news about New York state dairies benefiting from the greek yogurt craze, but times are still tough for NY dairies. California’s dairy industry, in particular, poses a formidable threat, due to pricing advantages and more aggressive marketing strategies. Via the Albany Times-Union:
N.Y. dairies fear getting creamed by California
Golden State’s milk-pricing system offers big advantage
A few months ago, a new product appeared in the aisles of Price Chopper supermarkets. The store’s plainly-packaged private-label butter now also bore a seal heralding its primary ingredient, “Real California Milk.”
This new item – California-made butter in a Northeast supermarket chain – is only a more visible expression of a longstanding issue for New York dairy farmers: Even on home turf, California’s super-sized dairy industry presents some hearty competition.
“It’s so hard for us to compete,” said Jeff Wysocki, 50, a dairy farmer in Hoosick Falls.
California has long been the nation’s largest producer of milk.
A large part of California’s dairy edge stems from its milk pricing system, which is set by the state, rather than using the federal milk pricing system that most states utilize, including New York. Dairy farmers in California are often paid up to several dollars less per hundred pounds — about 12 gallons — of milk than farmers in New York. In December, preliminary average milk prices paid to farmers were $18.80 per hundred pounds of milk in California, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. Farmers in New York received $22.20 per hundred pounds of milk in the same month.
Those milk prices often result in California-made dairy products that are sold at a lower cost than dairy produced in other states, giving California a competitive advantage nationally.
read the full story.
(Photo ©2013 TimesUnion.com)
via modfarm. Sorry to stray from cheese for a moment, but these law are deeply troubling and designed entirely to protect factory food operations at the expense and risk of the consumer:
Wyoming’s House of Representatives is the latest legislative body pass a “ag-gag” law, a new breed of legislation which makes it illegal to record video or photograph inside factory livestock farms. From Food Safety News:
In her bill, [Republican Sue Wallis] makes it a crime to “knowingly or intentionally” record images or sounds of an agricultural operation with concealed devices without the consent of the owner. Six months in jail and a $750 fine are provided as penalty. But anyone reporting animal abuse to local police within 48 hours is immune from civil liability.
If the bill passes in Wyoming’s state senate, it would become the fourth state to pass anti-whitsleblower laws. Iowa, Utah, and Missouri all passed similar bills last year, though Wyoming would be the only state to mandate jail time for those (including employees) who film in slaughterhouses.
New Hampshire, Indiana, Nebraska and Arkansas are all also considering their own versions of ag-gag laws. Last year saw 10 states attempting to pass similar piece of legislation, with many backing down after public outcry or worries about the constitutionality of the proposed bills.
Ag-gag laws have sprung up in response to the increasing number of videos taken in large-scale slaughterhouses showing a dizzying number of abuses. In Wyoming’s case, a video taken at a Wheatland, WY hog farm showed workers beating sows and tossing piglets. A later investigation turned up a number of abuses. From the Casper Star-Tribune:
A subsequent investigation by the Wyoming Livestock Board uncovered numerous harrowing incidents.
— Workers cut off the testicles of piglets and fed them to their sow.
— A woman worker who weighed more than 200 pounds sat on a sow that couldn’t walk because of a broken leg and was screaming in agony.
— Workers throwing piglets as if they were balls.
— Keeping pigs in crates so small, the animals were nearly immobilized and helpless.
— A sow with a prolapsed uterus that was left to die slowly after a worker botched an attempt to pull her piglets from her uterus
The hog farm is now under new management, and nine employees were charged with animal abuse.
When not working as a state legislator, Wallis heads up Unified Equine, LLC, a company that is seeking to build horse slaughterhouse in Oklahoma, Missouri, and Wyoming. Wallis has attempted to pass numerous bits of favorable legislation for large-scale animal production plants, winning her a fun nickname: “Slaughterhouse” Sue.
(Image: Thomas Bjørkan/CC 2.0)
Update from reader wereallfedup, the bill in Wyoming died without passing, but there are still many similar bills on the table out there.
Ever wonder what differentiates one goat breed from another? If you can’t tell your Saanen from your Nubian from your Toggenburg, your floppy- from your perky-eared, Laurel Miller at Haystack Mountain Goat Cheese has a useful guide for you:
There are dozens of different goat breeds from around the world, but here in the U.S., we tend to see just a handful. Goat breeds fall into three main categories, depending upon their intended use: meat, milk, or fiber. Some breeds are used for cross-purposes.
As for why breed diversity is slim pickings Stateside, one needs to understand that we’re one of the few cultures in the world that doesn’t routinely eat goat. Goat is the most widely consumed meat worldwide, and a staple throughout Latin America, Africa, Central Asia the Caribbean, Middle East, and parts of Europe.
While goat is gaining ground on North American high-end and ethnic menus, we’re just too squeamish (and anthropomorphic) for it to catch on as a mainstream protein source.
Cultures that consume goat meat also prize their milk as a source of vital protein and other nutrients, often in the form of yogurt or cheese. In certain parts of the world, goats are even used as pack animals. For most of the planet, goat and its by-products provide subsistence, and have serious economic, as well as social, value.
We also don’t prize goats for their fiber, although we’re all familiar with cashmere (derived from the fine, silky hair of the Kashmir or Cashmere goat, or Pygora or Nigora goats), and mohair, which comes from the Angora goat (not to be confused with the Angora rabbit, which is also used for its wool).
What North Americans love goats for (besides their inherent cuteness and ability to clear brush) is milk, primarily for use in cheesemaking. The most popular dairy breeds here mostly aren’t American in origin, but were brought to this country as dairy animals. Over the generations, due to improvements in breeding stock, these breeds have become prized for their various attributes, which range from milk yield and butterfat content, to temperament and mothering abilities.
Below, a guide to the most common American goat breeds.
Check out the full breed breakdown here!
The University of Vermont extension has an upcoming webinar that might be of interest to anyone considering a leap into goat farming:
Transitioning to a Commercial Goat Dairy: Are you Ready?
March 26, 2013 at 7 pm EST:
With Carol Delaney, M. S., author of A Guide to Starting a Commercial Goat Dairy.
Carol is a small ruminant dairy specialist and author of A Guide to Starting a Commercial Goat Dairy. Carol will present the platform and viewpoint to help you lay the framework for running a commercial dairy goat operation. There will be an emphasis on planning, livestock considerations, budgeting, record keeping, time management and marketing. Formerly with the University of Vermont Department of Animal Science and Extension, 1998-2008, Carol now works as a farmer grant specialist for Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education, and as a small ruminant consultant.
Sign up here.
On March 29 and 30, 2013, our organization will host the annual Just Food Conference. This two-day event will offer opportunities for the general public, food professionals, entrepreneurs, job seekers, CSA members, community organizers and farmers to come together for two days of workshops and skill- building sessions. The conference will provide attendees with opportunities to learn about national farm and food issues, CSA trends, and cooking and food preservation techniques, as well as ways to mobilize communities in order to increase access to farm-fresh, locally grown food.
On Friday from 5:30pm-7:30pm, Just Food and Good Food Jobs will co-host the Good Food Jobs Get Together, a networking event for conference participants and the job-seeking public. On Saturday, we’ll host an EXPO from 12pm-6:30pm featuring exemplary local food artisans, sustainable businesses, and organizations. At the end of the conference, we will host a closing reception from 4:30pm - 6:30pm at the EXPO. We hope you will join us!
Friday, March 29 - Saturday, March 30
8:00 - 7:30PM on Friday
8:00 - 6:30PM on Saturday
Food & Finance High School (Sign outside of the building reads Park West High School)
525 West 50th Street, New York, NY
Tickets going fast, get them here.