Infectious Diseases Society of America is inaccurate

December 19th, 2008 Abby Slanker

Editor:

I would like to point out several inaccuracies and distortions in the recent press release from the Infectious Diseases Society of America that was reported in last week’s issue of Farm and Dairy.

To support its claim that unpasteurized milk “poses serious health risks without benefits,” the Infectious Diseases Society reported the average rate of outbreaks linked to raw milk has doubled to an average of just over five a year.

First of all, five unspecified “outbreaks” is a ridiculously small number considering the total population of the U.S., and what is left unstated in the report is the majority of these outbreaks are due to so-called “bathtub” home soft cheese production and not due to fluid milk.

According to data available from the Center for Disease Control, outbreaks of salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis and E. coli are much more prevalent from common foods such as lettuce, ground beef, sausage, chicken, oysters, etc. than from unpasteurized milk.

The Infectious Diseases Society also states there is no scientific evidence to support the claim unpasteurized milk cures or prevents diseases, which is demonstrably false.

In 2006 the European PARSIFAL group published the results of their five-year study of 15,000 school-age children in five European counties and concluded there is an “inverse association of farm milk consumption with asthma and allergy in rural and suburban populations across Europe.”

Part of the confusion results from different meanings of the term “raw milk.”

Government agencies and the medical community say “raw milk” and mean milk from typical grain-based dairy farms and CAFOs that is intended for final pasteurization and retail distribution.

People in the local food community say “raw milk” and mean fluid milk from small family farms that strictly employ grass-based feeding, good pasture management and produce milk intended for human consumption.

People in the local food community would entirely agree raw milk from the former is indeed a probable disease vector, and there is scientific evidence in support of the health benefits of raw milk from the latter.

Government agencies and the medical community taint all types of raw milk with the same brush and deny there is any difference between them.

Finally, the press release also decries the use of “cow-share” programs as a means to circumvent state laws against raw milk sales.

I would like to point out Judge Hein’s December 2006 court decision in favor of Paul Schmitmeyer‘s suit against the Ohio Department of Agriculture demonstrated the fact there is nothing illegal about herdshare contracts that comport with Ohio law.

I have been a herd shareholder in an Ohio dairy farm for almost four years, and hundreds of other shareholders and their families daily drink milk, cream and butter from the cows on our farm we collectively own.

I have a very close personal and financial relationship with my farmer. I’ve helped out on the farm and my 5-year-old son has a great time whenever we go there.

We live in the city, and I’m very grateful my son has the opportunity to also experience rural life and to have a strong connection with the source of our food.

Raw milk is sold retail in some states such as California, and is available through vending machines in some European countries.

However, I’d be personally reluctant to drink milk from an unknown farm, and I much prefer the advantages of having a herdshare boarding contract with a single farm.

Don Neeper

Rocky River, Ohio

Unpasteurized milk poses serious health risks without benefits

December 17th, 2008 Farm and Dairy Staff

COLUMBUS — With disease outbreaks linked to unpasteurized milk rising in the U.S., a review published in the Jan. 1, 2009 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases examines the dangers of drinking raw milk.

Health hazard

Milk and dairy products are cornerstones of a healthy diet. However, if those products are consumed unpasteurized, they can present a serious health hazard because of possible contamination with pathogenic bacteria.

An average of 5.2 outbreaks per year linked to raw milk have occurred in the U.S. between 1993 and 2006 — more than double the rate in the previous 19 years, according to co-authors Jeffrey T. LeJeune and Paivi J. Rajala-Schultz of the College of Veterinary Medicine, Columbus.

Contamination can occur at the time of collection, processing, distribution or storage of milk, the authors write.

Pathogens

Many pathogens can be found in the dairy farm environment, which can contaminate the teat skin of dairy cows and consequently the milk at the time when cows are milked.

For example, Salmonella and E. coli have been reported in pooled milk collected from farms. Outbreaks of salmonellosis, campylobacteriosis and E. coli related to raw milk consumption have been reported since 2005.

Circumvent the law

Although the sale of raw milk was illegal in 26 states as of 2006, the authors note those who are opposed to pasteurization have found ways to circumvent the law and obtain raw milk.

For example, participants in “cow-share” programs pay for the upkeep of the cow and receive raw milk in exchange, rather than buying raw milk outright.

Raw milk advocates claim unpasteurized milk cures or prevents disease, but no scientific evidence supports this notion.

Testing

Testing raw milk, which has been suggested as an alternative to pasteurization, cannot ensure a product which is 100 percent safe and free of pathogens.

Pasteurization remains the best way to reduce the unavoidable risk of contamination, according to the authors.

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May 19th, 2008 Jordan Roberts

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Heifer International seeks to lessen poverty through livestock programs

May 7th, 2008 Farm and Dairy Staff

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Amid calls for increased food aid due to the crisis in food prices, hunger experts at Heifer International are issuing appeals for long-term solutions that increase available food supplies through agricultural development.

Dr. Jim DeVries, Heifer’s vice president of programs, said agricultural development projects can help sustenance-level farmers increase their production and they, in turn, can bring low-cost food to market, which would help feed the urban poor who are most vulnerable to market forces.

Out of reach

In developing countries, rice and other staples are being priced out of reach for the world’s poorest people, resulting in shortage-related violence in Haiti, parts of Africa and elsewhere.

The causes of the crisis are not short-term, but rather trends in oil prices, increasing demand for food in rapidly developing countries like India and China, and diversion of land to crops for biofuel production.

DeVries asked: “In light of this new reality — the high price of energy, global warming and increased demand — what is our strategy?

“In Africa and the developing world, upgrading small rural farms through livestock used with integrated farming techniques can boost crop production while conserving and protecting the environment. That would mean a continuing source of food in the places where it is needed most,” he said.

Livestock

Farmers with incomes of a few hundred dollars a year can hardly afford to buy cows or goats, but Heifer International’s projects provide the cows or goats and then ask the farmers to pay for them by “passing on the gift” of offspring of the livestock to others.

That multiplies and spreads the benefits, and it makes it possible for farmers, with training in integrated agriculture, to begin developing environmentally sound farms that can double or triple their previous output.

Since Heifer International started in 1944, this approach has helped more than 48 million people become more self-reliant.

Heifer International is not alone in pressing for greater development efforts using livestock and agriculture. Kanayo Nwanze, vice president of the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development, outlined recently the need for renewed interest and investments in rural agriculture and development.

“Rapid agricultural and rural development holds the key to eliminating poverty in Africa.”
Kanayo Nwanze
vice president of the U.N. International Fund for Agricultural Development

Development

“Rapid agricultural and rural development holds the key to eliminating poverty in Africa,” Nwanze told a meeting of African Union and delegates to the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa.

“A concerted, coordinated and collective effort is the most effective way to tackle the triple scourge of poverty, climate change and high food prices and to guarantee a sustainable future for women, marginalized groups and smallholder farmers in Africa,” he continued.

Scaling up Heifer International’s approach is the goal of a recent $42.8 million grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its model to produce milk for commercial dairies in parts of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya.

Goal

The goal of the East Africa Dairy Development Project is to help one million people — 179,000 families — lift themselves out of poverty by developing 30 milk collection hubs with “chilling plants” where farmers will bring raw milk for pickup by commercial dairies.

Farmer business associations will own and manage the chilling plants. The project will provide extensive training in animal agriculture, animal well-being and business practices.

Thus, farmers with only one or two cows will be able to participate in the “value chain” of profit through the commercial dairy industry, while maintaining pastoral production methods that are environmentally friendly.

For more information, visit www.heifer.org/foodcrisis.

States team up to advance dairy issues

February 7th, 2008 Farm and Dairy Staff

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Agriculture officials in Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont have renewed a partnership to develop a vision and promote profitability in the Northeast region.

Pennsylvania Agriculture Secretary Dennis Wolff, New York Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker and Vermont Agriculture Secretary Roger Albee signed the agreement during a Northeast Dairy Leadership Team meeting Jan. 17-18 in Oneonta, N.Y.

Animal well-being

The leadership team also voted to support the National Dairy Animal Well Being Initiative, creating a national umbrella to allow dairy producers formally to document they are meeting dairy animal care and well-being standards.

As a result of the decision, the leadership team will identify qualifying programs and avenues for implementation of the initiative across Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont.

The meeting also included a discussion about the impact of rbST-free milk labeling on the Northeast dairy market. The group worked to identify how the dairy industry can continue to protect other commonly-used technologies, ensuring producers the freedom to operate and providing access to growing markets for wholesalers and retailers.

Discussions about raw milk sales in the region, a tristate milk quality initiative, risk management tools for dairy producers and concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) regulations and policies were also part of the two-day meeting.

Further information

For more information, visit the Northeast Dairy Leadership Team.

In New York, contact Mark Kenville at 315-453-3823. In Vermont, contact Diane Bothfeld at 802-828-3835. In Pennsylvania, contact John Frey at 717-346-0849.

2007 top stories in review

January 3rd, 2008 Other News

Egg farm
Ohio Fresh Egg farm owners were slapped with fines for drinking water violations at the farm’s Croton facility in February.
The operation also continued its fight with the state department of agriculture, which revoked the farm’s permits earlier in the year. In August, the state’s review board sided with the egg farm, and by the end of September, ODA had filed an appeal to keep the farm from getting the permits back.
In November, the unrelated Hi-Q egg farm filed with ODA for permits to build and operate an egg farm in Union County.

Court cases
Wayne County hog farmer Ken Wiles, his son and an employee were cleared of all but one of 10 animal cruelty charges in June. National attention was drawn to the farm after an undercover animal rights investigator videotaped farm conditions, including employees euthanizing hogs.
Esbenshade Egg Farms in Mount Joy, Pa., was found not guilty of the animal cruelty charges filed against it in 2006.
The state dismissed 13 counts of animal cruelty against Tom Skelton in June and returned horses taken from his Mahoning County farm. Skelton pleaded no contest to two other charges.

Dairy labeling/rbST
Many U.S. dairy farmers faced a dilemma when they were asked to sign affidavits binding them to the production of rbST-free milk.
In Pennsylvania, the department of agriculture said rbST-free and other similar labels were “misleading.” The state announced a ban on those labels in October, but later postponed the ban.
Pennsylvania’s move prompted Ohio to examine its dairy labeling laws, but officials have not made any official ruling yet.

Raw milk
After six months in court, the Ohio Department of Agriculture dropped its case against Darke County dairy farmer Carol Schmitmeyer.
Schmitmeyer had been providing raw milk through herd share agreements when the department took her Grade A milk producer license. The ODA dropped the case after Gov. Ted Strickland said herd shares are not problematic.

Horse slaughter
There was a lot of arguing about legislation to ban horse slaughter in the U.S. Although the legislation never left Congress, the last U.S. horse slaughter facility closed in September.

MWCD
Less than four months after a controversial assessment fee was approved in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, Ohio lawmakers voted to stop collection of the fee until 2009.

Record corn
U.S. farmers were expected to produce the largest corn crop in history, according to USDA. Corn production was forecast at 13.1 billion bushels, 10.6 percent above the previous record of 11.8 billion bushels set in 2004.

New leaders in ag
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland appointed Ashtabula County’s Robert Boggs as the new director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Strickland also appointed Columbiana County’s Sean Logan as the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Farm bill
Though both the House and Senate each approved a version of the farm bill, no new national program was approved before year’s end. Negotiations between the two will carry over into the 2008 session.

Johanns resigns
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns resigned his post abruptly Sept. 19 and revealed plans to run for a seat in the U.S. Senate. President George Bush appointed Deputy Agriculture Secretary Charles Conner as acting secretary, then nominated North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer as the next secretary. Schafer has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

Deer disease
An outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease killed hundreds – or perhaps thousands – of deer in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. In Greene Township in Beaver County, Pa., there were more than 200 deer carcasses decaying throughout the area in September.

Renewable energy
Renewable energy was a regular topic in news reports this year.
In April, Tyson Foods and ConocoPhillips announced a new alliance to use beef, pork and poultry byproducts to create a renewable diesel.
At Farm Science Review in September, visitors saw the first public demonstration of a solid oxide fuel cell system operating on vegetable oil made from soybeans.
Fairview Swiss Cheese Plant broke ground in October on a $2.2 million anaerobic digester that will convert cheese whey and ice cream cone batter waste into renewable energy.

Mahoning Farm Bureau members celebrate another year

October 4th, 2007 Susan Crowell

CANFIELD, Ohio – The Mahoning County Farm Bureau reviewed achievements of the past year at its annual meeting Sept. 27.
There were 150 members and guests attending the event, held at the Avion on the Water banquet center.
County awards. County president David Kenreich and state trustee Frank Burkett III presented state Standards of Achievement, or Star, awards to nine of the 10 committee leaders. The committee chairmen included the following:
Jim Moore, advisory council/young farmer; Ralph Wince, agricultural ecology; Sharen O’Brock, government affairs; Andrea Zippay, information; Marjorie Yerman, Nationwide promotion; ken O’Brock, policy development; Shirley Kellgreen, promotion and education; Lola Ann Kurtz, safety; and Aimee and Tim Hum, youth.
Moore introduced Michael Miller, the county’s Outstanding Young Farmer winner. Miller farms in a family dairy partnership in Goshen Township. A graduate of Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute, he currently serves on the county Farm Bureau board and is also active in the state Holstein association.
Jenifer Weaver received dual honors. She is one of the four state semi-finalists in the Farm Bureau discussion meet and will compete in the final round during the state annual meeting in Columbus. Weaver is also the county’s Excellence in Agriculture winner. The grain manager at Deerfield Farms Service, Weaver also helps on the family cow/calf operation. She is also a member of the county Farm Bureau board.
Policy development. Members also voted on proposed public policies on the local, state and national levels. County issues ranged from support for the local OSU Extension and Soil and Water Conservation District offices to a push for an ag representative on the county planning commission.
Members also voted on 20 state policy recommendations, including the support of raw milk retail licensing, several proposals dealing with animal welfare and legal liabilities, and a push for Nationwide Insurance to broaden its farm insurance portfolio.
First in state. The county Farm Bureau youth group was recognized for its creation of a safety skit that won the state competition. The sketch, “A Night to Remember,” dealt with teen drinking and driving.
Youth leaders Aimee and Tim Hum also announced the youth awards and scholarships. Kristi Moff and Nicole Glista were the county Farm Bureau’s representatives in the Canfield Junior Fair outstanding youth award contest.
Glista, currently a student at the University of Findlay, also received the county’s agricultural scholarship award of $300.
Christine Toporcer, a student at Youngstown State University, received the $300 Alan J. Withers Agriculture and Leadership Scholarship.
Membership. Although the county’s membership team didn’t meet all the state’s requirements for a Standards of Achievement award, the county attained farmer-member gain. Margie and Jay Stanwood chaired the membership committee.
Total membership in 2006-2007 stood at 7,324 members. Of those, 947 are “active” farm member families.
Tom Koch, John Martig and Sharen O’Brock were recognized as each signing up 13 new members. Marjorie Yerman was the top signer, recruiting 30 new members.
New leaders. With the state-driven revamping of the county leadership structure, the county Farm Bureau’s existing 10 committees will merge into three. Marjorie Yerman will be leading the public policy action team; Jenifer Weaver will chair the communications team; and Ralph Wince will lead the organization team.
The members also adopted a code change regarding trustee election and representation. One trustee can be elected from each active advisory council; six “at large” trustees will be elected at the annual meeting; and three to six trustees will be appointed by the executive officers.
Newly elected at-large trustees include: Marguerite Gillern and Elaine Less, one-year term; Brenda Markley, Robert Michael, two-year terms; and Lola Ann Kurtz and Sharen O’Brock, three-year terms.
Delegates elected to the 2008 annual meeting include Tom Koch, Ralph Wince and Marjorie Yerman.
(Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell can be reached at 800-837-3419 or at editor@farmanddairy.com.)

Ohio study will track nuisance birds that spread E. coli among dairies

September 27th, 2007 Other News

WOOSTER, Ohio – Ohio State University scientists are using a $1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to study the relationship between wild birds and E. coli contamination on farms, in an effort to gather crucial data leading to effective preharvest control strategies that would help minimize foodborne illnesses throughout the country.
Jeff LeJeune, a microbiologist and veterinary scientist with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center in Wooster, leads the groundbreaking study, which concentrates on an invasive nuisance bird whose impact on the propagation of disease-causing pathogens has not been determined: European starlings.
Evidence. Yet, LeJeune said, there’s strong evidence these birds harbor E. coli and other dangerous organisms such as Salmonella and Campylobacter, and that they contribute to the spread of pathogens among farms.
Studies conducted by his lab have found that E. coli O157-H7 strains isolated from European starlings are the same as strains found on dairy farms in close geographical proximity.
“This is the first study about the relationship between European starlings and food safety,” said LeJeune, also a specialist with OSU Extension.
“We need to know how much these birds are contributing to infection on farms to see if management strategies to reduce their numbers or restrict access to livestock-feeding areas are warranted. If you can prevent infection on the farm, you’ll positively impact food safety downstream.”
Although many different species of wild birds can potentially carry foodborne illnesses and contaminate animals or crops via feed, water or soil, European starlings are in a category of their own.
Introduction. First introduced in the United States in 1890, the aggressive, strong-flying starlings have spread throughout the country and grown to an estimated 140-200 million individuals.
“European starlings are known to displace native cavity-nesting birds, knock out power lines, dirty buildings in the cities and threaten aircraft safety,” said Jeff Homan, a USDA research wildlife biologist working in the study.
“And they love to congregate by the thousands at feedlots and dairy farms attracted by feed, which causes important economic losses to producers and affects animal growth and milk production.”
Ohio is a perfect location for this study, Homan said. The Buckeye state has one of the highest breeding densities of European starlings in the United States, with large winter roosts containing 400,000-600,000 birds.
Wayne County. The project targets Wayne County in northeast Ohio, home to at least one large European starling roost and numerous dairy farms.
“Cattle are an important foodborne route of human infection with E. coli via contaminated ground beef and raw milk, and manure is an important environmental source of contamination, which is why we are concentrating our study on dairy farms,” LeJeune explained.
“But this research will also be important to find out whether starlings are contributing to the spread of E. coli on vegetable fields as they fly between dairy farms.”
To determine the extent to which European starlings disseminate E. coli between cattle on neighboring farms, LeJeune and Homan are using bird-tracking technology and DNA testing of E. coli subtypes.
Tracking. Fifty starlings from five different dairy farms will be captured and fitted with tiny tail-mount radiotelemetry transmitters, which can track the movement and behavior of each bird – including the farm(s) they visit and how long they stay.
As many as 2,000 other birds will be tagged with 5-inch leg flags of different colors to supplement the telemetry studies.
“We are asking farmers and the general public in Wayne and surrounding counties to let us know when and where they spot any of these tagged birds,” LeJeune said.
“This will help us get a better picture of their flying behavior and bird distribution in the area.”
If you see a European starling sporting a color flag on its leg, report the sighting by logging on to http://oardc.osu.edu/starling; e-mailing o157@osu.edu; or calling 330-263-3619.

Ohio agriculture director Robert Boggs: At the grassroots, telling it like it is

September 6th, 2007 Andrea Zippay

SALEM, Ohio – Shortly after Robert Boggs of Ashtabula County took over as director of the Ohio Department of Agriculture earlier this year, he got an order from the governor.
“‘There’s no agriculture in Columbus,’ he told me,” Boggs said. “Get out to the counties and get to the grassroots.”
So that’s exactly what Boggs is doing, following a personal mission to attend 30 of the state’s county fairs by the end of the season. During his 24th stop last week at the Canfield Fair, Boggs let farmers pick his mind on important agricultural issues.

On animal cruelty and CAFO lawsuits:
The department of agriculture supports and encourages production of food animals in a safe manner, Boggs said.
“We’ve asked that when there’s a bad actor out there, we don’t defend them. We need to cleanse the [livestock] industry of bad actors; we have to do a good job at that.”
Boggs’ mission, too, is to engage neighbors who complain about odor or flies at large CAFO operations, or even family farms.
“Whenever [ODA] gets a complaint against a CAFO, I offer to visit the farm with [the complainant] and see if we’re doing the right things. So far, I’ve not had anyone take me up on that,” he said.

On spreading the message of agriculture:
“Producers are so great at producing, but bad at telling their stories. We’ve got a big education project ahead of us. We all have to be telling the same story!”
Since his run as agriculture director, Boggs has pushed to form relationships with Ohio State’s ag college dean Bobby Moser and various farm group leaders. And while he admits he knows some of those farm groups have differing opinions on matters, there’s one common ground: “Let’s talk about the things we agree on.”
“Ag has to speak in a united voice. It’s generally an easy sell, but people will believe whatever someone else is telling them if you’re not [telling them your side].”

On biomass and biofuels:
“I feel so good to be director of agriculture right now during this biorevolution, a time that will completely transform agriculture, both for better and for worse.”
Boggs said Ohio is likely to have its first ethanol production plant up and running by the end of the calendar year.
“And if we’re lucky, by the time the 2008 Canfield Fair rolls around, we’ll be looking at six to eight plants in Ohio producing 300 million to 400 million gallons of ethanol every year.”
Boggs also said Ohio’s leaders are “doing all we can to let Ohio base its biofuels on many sources, not putting all our eggs in one basket.”
Boggs said there’s not a county in Ohio that lacks enough biomass to make a local economic impact.

On ethanol use:
“It doesn’t do us any good to produce the stuff if we don’t have a distribution system in place, now does it?”
Boggs said the state is looking at offering several million dollars in inducements to get retailers to switch tanks and allow ethanol’s widespread availability.
That will likely happen on a regional basis, likely beginning in the populated northeastern Ohio region and the Columbus area.
“We’ll definitely not build it overnight.”

On emerald ash borer:
The entire state of Ohio is currently part of a federal quarantine to slow the spread of the devastating emerald ash borer. However, on the state level, not all counties are quarantined.
“We don’t plan to quarantine counties with no evidence of the borer.”
“I’ve got a friend in Lake County, a horticulture operation, and he’s got 75,000 ash trees he can’t move or do anything with. It’s definitely a problem.”

On raw milk:
“It’s the administration’s position we will permit sales of raw milk in a very restricted fashion, but the herds must be inspected to keep consumers protected. We will not support unfettered rights [to sell raw milk.]”

On animal identification:
“Within a decade, I feel we’ll have a national program in place. Voluntary premises registration, nothing more.”

On the future of agriculture in Ohio:
“I get questions: ‘Is there enough room for my son or daughter in agriculture?’ I say absolutely, but it might not be the same type of ag as what mom and dad did.”
Boggs said there’s statistics that show Ohio still doesn’t produce enough eggs or goat meat to fulfill demand, so there’s opportunity there.
“Open your mind. Those who do will be successful.”
(Reporter Andrea Zippay welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419 or by e-mail at azippay@farmanddairy.com.)

Kroger switches to rbST-free milk

August 16th, 2007 Other News

CINCINNATI – By next February, the Kroger Co. will be selling only certified rbST-free milk.
Earlier this year, Kroger transitioned the milk it sells in the western half of the U.S. to a certified rBST-free supply. By February, milk the company processes and sells in its stores throughout the Midwest and Southeast will also be certified as rbST-free.
This includes Kroger banner stores in Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.
No difference in milk. Recombinant bovine somatotropin is given to cows to help increase milk production and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has concluded there is no difference between milk derived from cows treated with rbST and those that have not been treated.
But recently, a growing number of dairy farmers have started to offer certification that the milk they produce comes from cows not treated with rbST. As a result of these certification programs and growing customer interest in this issue, Kroger is buying only raw milk from dairy cows that are certified rbST-free beginning early next year.
Kroger operates 15 dairies and three ice cream plants in the U.S.
Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Kroger is one of the nation’s largest retail grocery chains.

Farm and Dairy writers earn ag journalism awards

May 3rd, 2007 Other News

SALEM, Ohio – Farm and Dairy staff members earned three awards in the North American Agricultural Journalists’ annual writing contest.
The 2007 awards were announced recently during the organization’s annual meeting in Washington D.C.
Reporter Andrea Zippay earned an honorable mention in the Features category for her light-hearted look at the hog wrestling at the Mile Branch Grange Fair in “Mud and Guts: Hog wrestling trio determined to repeat win.”
Former reporter Kristy Hebert placed with an honorable mention in the News category for her look at the controversy surrounding raw milk in “Raw milk fires up industry.”
Farm and Dairy Editor Susan Crowell also received an honorable mention in the Columns/Analysis division for her column “False comfort: Raw milk is safe.”
Other winners hailed from publications such as the Des Moines Register, Omaha World-Herald, Successful Farming magazine, Associated Press and DTN.
North American Agricultural Journalists is a professional association of agricultural editors and writers across the United States and Canada.

Dairy farmer can keep milking

October 12th, 2006 Janelle Skrinjar

SALEM, Ohio – A Darke County judge has ruled that milk producer Carol Schmitmeyer can continue operating as a Grade A dairy producer as long as no raw milk is distributed to her herd share customers.
Revoked. Schmitmeyer’s dairy license was revoked by the Ohio Department of Agriculture Sept. 28 after she allegedly violated several Ohio dairy laws, including processing milk without a processor’s license, selling raw milk and selling milk that wasn’t properly labeled.
The Darke County Common Pleas Court granted the temporary permit to continue operating and it will remain in effect until the court hears Schmitmeyer’s appeal regarding the order that revoked her license.
The ODA does not object to a conditional permit for the producer.
Schmitmeyer declined to comment on the temporary permit, saying attorneys are still working out some of the details.
Background. Schmitmeyer said she wasn’t selling raw milk, but had been providing it through herd share agreements with customers who paid a $50 membership fee to own a portion of the herd, plus a weekly $6 boarding fee. Although raw milk sales are illegal in Ohio, there is no law that prevents those who own dairy cattle from drinking the milk.
The ODA said the $6 boarding fee was actually the price of a gallon of raw milk.
Ohio dairy laws do allow farmers to sell milk directly to consumers if they are a licensed and inspected milk processor. They also have to meet labeling, pasteurization and other requirements.
Schmitmeyer, who had been using the herd share agreements for about one year, has been under investigation since January after two people who drank raw milk from her farm became ill with campylobacterosis, a sickness characterized by diarrhea, cramps and fever.
Tests. The dairy producer said her milk never tested positive for the bacteria.
Schmitmeyer and her husband, Paul, make a living on their 100-head dairy farm.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

Related articles:
Raw milk fires up industry
March 16, 2006

Washington farm fined as E. coli source
March 30, 2006

http://www.farmanddairy.com/1editorialbody.lasso?-token.folder=2006-10-05&-token.story=59883.112114&-token.subpub= “target=”_blank”>Ohioan loses milk license
October 5, 2006

Ohioan loses milk license

October 5th, 2006 Janelle Skrinjar

SALEM, Ohio – A Darke County dairy producer lost her Grade A milk producer license Sept. 28 after allegedly violating Ohio’s dairy laws.
According to the Ohio Department of Agriculture, the producer, Carol Schmitmeyer, failed to comply with the law by processing milk without a processor’s license, selling raw milk and selling milk that wasn’t properly labeled.
Herd shares. Schmitmeyer had been providing raw milk through herd share agreements with customers who paid a $50 membership fee to own a portion of the herd, plus a weekly $6 boarding fee. Although raw milk sales are illegal in Ohio, there is no law that prevents those who own dairy cattle from drinking the milk.
The ODA said the $6 boarding fee was actually the price of a gallon of raw milk.
Ohio dairy laws do allow farmers to sell milk directly to consumers if they are a licensed and inspected milk processor. They also have to meeting labeling, pasteurization and other requirements.
The hearing officer who heard the Schmitmeyer case called the herd share agreement “nothing more than a thinly-veiled attempt to shield (her) from liability for her illegal sales of raw milk.”
The other side. But Schmitmeyer said that’s not true. She said herd shares are legal in Ohio and the agreements were written by an attorney to make sure the process complied with the law.
“Never was there an intent to break the law,” she said. “We went through every means possible to make sure we were upholding the law.”
Schmitmeyer did not attend the Sept. 8 and Sept. 14 hearings, but was represented by counsel.
LeeAnne Mizer, ODA spokesperson, said herd shares aren’t defined in Ohio law and the concept isn’t clear cut.
Schmitmeyer, who had been using the herd share agreements for about one year, has been under investigation since January after two people who drank raw milk from her farm became ill with campylobacterosis, a sickness characterized by diarrhea, cramps and fever.
Test results. The dairy producer said her milk never tested positive for the bacteria and revoking her license is nothing more than a ruse to make consumers feel protected by the ODA.
She said the department revoked her license to set an example and “scare off any other farmers who do herd shares.”
Schmitmeyer and her husband, Paul, make a living on their 100-head dairy farm and plan to appeal the ODA’s decision to the Darke County Court of Common Pleas.
“Yes, we are going to appeal or we will lose the farm and the home we love because we cannot financially continue without a Grade A license,” Schmitmeyer said.
Procedure. The Ohio Department of Agriculture yanked the license after an independent hearing officer recommended the action. Standard procedure in cases such as this require both sides of the case to be heard by an independent hearing officer, who then makes a recommendation to ODA Director Fred Dailey.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

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Mahoning Co. Farm Bureau leaders earn state achievement awards

October 5th, 2006 Other News

BOARDMAN, Ohio – Mahoning County Farm Bureau volunteer leaders received all 10 of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s Standards of Achievement, or star, awards during last week’s annual banquet.
The annual meeting and awards banquet was held at the Avion on the Water Banquet Center Oct. 5.
Local leaders. The awards recognize the local programming coordinated by the county Farm Bureau committees. Chairing the teams in 2005-06 were:
Jenifer Weaver, advisory council/young farmer committee; James Moore, agricultural ecology; Marjorie Yerman, government affairs; Meaghan Chismar, information; David Kenreich, membership; Maggie Mullen, Nationwide sponsorship; Sharen O’Brock, policy development; Mary Moore, promotion and education; Steve Ramseyer, safety; and Marguerite and Paul Gillern, youth.
State Rep. John Boccieri also presented the committee leaders with commendations from the Statehouse for their community service.
Other awards. Tricia and Howie Withers received the county’s Outstanding Young Farm Couple award. They are the fourth generation to operate Honey Creek Farm in Springfield Township.
In addition to the Milking Shorthorns that have long been a fixture at Honey Creek Farm, they have added Red and White Holsteins to the herd and increased overall milk production. They have also made improvements to the operation through crop rotations, no-till and minimum till crop practices, building and equipment improvements and installation of a solar water well.
Tricia Withers also competed in the semi-finals of the Ohio Farm Bureau discussion meet in August, along with Jared Myers. Myers is one of the four statewide finalists and will compete in November at the state annual meeting in Columbus.
The local Farm Bureau presented Tom Puch, an agronomist with Agland Co-op, with its Excellence in Crop Advising award.
State update. State board member Jeff Zellers from Stark County spoke briefly to update members on statewide issues. He touched on growing raw milk concerns, saying it’s is “a very contentious issue here in Ohio”; drainage, and immigration issues.
Zellers, who chairs the statewide policy development committee, reminded members that the local policy development effort is important, and is what makes Farm Bureau a grassroots organization.
He also said upcoming election is “big,” and that “things will change” after November. He challenged members to find out where local and state candidates stand on issues, before voting.
Youth awards. Farm Bureau youth members Melissa Riehl and Rachel Stanwood were named the 2006 outstanding youth, and received a $100 U.S. Savings Bond.
Stanwood also received the Alan J. Withers Agriculture and Leadership Scholarship. She is a nursing student at the University of Akron.
Heather Moff, a freshman at Ohio State University in the ag engineering program, received the county Farm Bureau’s agricultural scholarship.
During the meeting, members elected Tom Koch, Mary Moore and Marjorie Yerman as delegates to next year’s state annual meeting. Edgar Kurtz and Michael Miller are alternates.
Organization vice president Dave Kenreich was installed as president, succeeding Tom Koch, who served six years as county president.
Members also voted on a set of 14 county policy resolutions; 16 state-level policy recommendations and two national proposals.

A night of awards at Stark County Farm Bureau annual meeting

September 21st, 2006 Janelle Skrinjar

EAST CANTON, Ohio – Even as a young boy, Jay Harsh was interested in farming. As an adult, he’s taken that interest to a new height. Jay and his wife, Debbie, received the Distinguished Service award from the Stark County Farm Bureau Sept. 12.
The Harshes have worked with the Farm Bureau for 17 years, serving as information coordinators and helping with the membership campaign during that time. As information coordinators, their committee earned a Star Award each year.
Jay is also on the county Farm Bureau’s board of trustees.
The Harshes live on a dairy farm where they milk about 20 cows and also raise sheep and pigs. The couple farms 120 acres of corn, wheat, oats and hay.
Star status. The Farm Bureau also recognized committee chairs who earned Star Awards. In Stark County, all 10 committee chairs reached this goal.
Star Awards went to: Bill and Jennifer Wentling, advisory council; Jay and Debbie Harsh, information; Nancy Varian, membership; Terry Klick, government affairs; Janice Nieto, safety; John and Midge Brainerd, promotion and education; Les and Sharon Snyder, youth; Michael Greenbaum, ag ecology; Frank Burkett III, policy development; and Bob Wentling, Nationwide sponsorship.
President Reed Varian received a certificate of achievement for helping the committee chairs earn the Star Awards. Reed also installed Tom Seifert Jr. as the organization’s new president.
Also at the meeting, Farm Bureau members elected the following trustees: Debbie Tournoux, Jay Harsh, Terry Klick and Les Snyder.
Delegates. John and Midge Brainerd and Jay and Debbie Harsh were elected as delegates to the 2007 Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting. Dennis and Jennifer Smith are the alternates.
Committee chairs for 2006-2007 are: Terry Klick, government affairs; Reed Varian, safety; Bill and Jennifer Wentling, advisory council; Les and Sharon Snyder, youth council; Jay and Debbie Harsh, information; Ben Ream, membership; John and Midge Brainerd, promotion and education; Michael Greenbaum, ag ecology; Frank Burkett III, policy development; and Gloria Wentling, Nationwide sponsorship.
Jay Harsh and Ben Ream were recognized for excelling in the county’s membership drive. Stark County currently has 7,076 Farm Bureau members.
Policy. In other business, Farm Bureau members approved several policies on the local, state and national levels.
Six policies were approved at the local level. Voters were in favor of a fair assessment of land concerning drainage problems and opposed allowing refuse from other states into Ohio.
Raw milk, ethanol and school funding were among the state topics. Farm Bureau members passed six policies that included support for ethanol and other alternative fuels and opposition to raw milk sales directly to consumers.
At the national level, voters approved five policies including the restriction of eminent domain and the reduction of inheritance taxes after 2010.
(Reporter Janelle Skrinjar welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 22, or by e-mail at jskrinjar@farmanddairy.com.)

Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau honors members for outstanding year

September 21st, 2006 Contributing Writers

SUGARCREEK, Ohio – A-MAIZE-ing Tuscarawas County was the theme for the 2006 Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau annual meeting, emphasizing the importance of corn to the economy of Tuscarawas County.
Another successful year was celebrated during the Aug. 29 meeting at Dutch Valley Restaurant at Sugarcreek. Bill Hawthorne, county president, received a 10 Star Plaque indicating the successful completion of all 10 program areas. It was his second consecutive year for this accomplishment.
Hawthorne, who has served as county president for the past four years, credited his committee members for their hard work and dedication leading to the awards. Each committee, represented by its chairman, also received a star award.
Star award winners. Committee chairmen recognized for their achievements were John Feller, government affairs; Jaynie Norman, promotion and education; Darlene Finzer, safety; Hallie Hawthorne, information; Dan Donato and Mary Jane John, membership; Michelle and Jeremy Evans, youth council; Mary Jane John, advisory councils and young farm couples; Jim Rowe and Mike Yoder, agriculture ecology; Matt Miller, policy development; and Don Hoffman, Nationwide sponsorship.
Michele Specht, organization director for Tuscarawas, Carroll and Harrison counties, passed the gavel to Jerry Lahmers of Newcomerstown, a 60-year old beef and crop farmer and former veterinarian. Lahmers has served on the Farm Bureau board of trustees and its policy development committee.
Lahmers announced his 2006-2007 committee chairpersons: John Feller, government affairs; Jaynie Norman and Rita Lahmers, promotion and education; Jim Boltz and Bill Hawthorne, safety; Dan Evans, information; Mary Jane John, membership; Michelle and Jeremy Evans, youth council; Mike Yoder, advisory council and young farm couples; Greg Hoffman, agriculture ecology; Jim Rowe, policy development; and Hallie Hawthorne, Nationwide sponsorship.
Meeting the goal. It was noted that Tuscarawas County met its membership goal this year, with a total of 2,167 members. Of that number, 1,023 are farmers.
Steve and Sonya Quillin of 5455 Angel Valley Rd., SW, Stone Creek, were honored as the 2006 Outstanding Young Farm Couple. They operate a dairy, beef and crop farm in partnership with Steve’s father and brother.
Steve’s grandfather, George Quillin, purchased a 200-acre farm in 1957, starting with 20 cows, 40 acres of hay and 25 acres of corn. When Steve graduated form high school in 1994, he joined a three-generation partnership with his grandfather, father, and brother.
At that time they had 130 cows, 200 acres of hay and 200 acres of corn, renting 300 acres. At present they have 135 cows – 80 replacement heifers, 80 steers and 70 calves under 12 months. They have 482 acres and rent another 400 acres.
Sonya grew up on a farm and is a full-time helper with calf raising, book keeping and computer records.
Ag educator. Marsha Reed was honored as the 2006 Agriculture Educator of the Year. Reed has been a teacher for 15 years at New Philadelphia’s York Elementary and she currently teaches fourth grade. She has implemented an economics program using agricultural lessons to help students learn more about the benefits and importance of farmers and farming communities.
Jeremy and Michelle Evans gave a report on some of the activities of the Bootscooter Youth Council and presented the 2006 member of the year nominees. Nominees were Nikki Dryden, 16, and Hallie Mast, 16, both juniors at Garaway High School. Dryden, the Tuscarawas County beef princess, was named the outstanding member.
Jim Rowe presented 2006 local, state and national policies developed by the policy development committee. All policies were approved by the 141 members attending the meeting, including one on educating farmers in regards to Ohio’s new Agricultural Security Area program.
Other local issues approved were a continued educational program with the county sheriff’s department concerning the protection of private property; the renewal of a 1 percent sales tax in the county; and a county clean-up program to improve visibility and safety at intersections and railroad crossings.
State issues. State issues include the support of continuing the Current Agriculture Use Value program; enforcement of proper installation and marking of gas lines; supporting the expansion of alternative fuels and exploration of domestic oil sources; and opposing the sale of raw milk.
Due to the large number of deer on area farms, the group voted to support the extension of the deer gun and muzzleloader season and reduce the price of antler-less deer tags and the creation of a family deer harvest tag packet for immediate family members.
National issues were to support legislation requiring agricultural imports to meet the same standard as required in the U.S.; supporting the removal of manure from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency list of hazardous materials; and the completion of the 2007 Farm Bill.
Elected to represent the county on the board of trustees were: Ray Reed, district 3; Matt Miller, district 4; Mike Yoder, district 5; Matt Durbin district 8; John Feller, district 12; and Jim Rowe, trustee at large.
Delegates. Serving as delegates for the 2007 Ohio Farm Bureau annual meeting will be Amy Mizer-Yoder, Mike Yoder, Dan Evans, John Feller, and Bill Hawthorne.
Kim Davis, state trustee, discussed some current issues and asked members to be aware of House Bill 503 concerning the slaughter of horses which could set a dangerous precedent.
Advisory councils recognized were Bedrock Bunch, 10 years; Buckhorn Farmers, four years; Hungry Farmers, 26 years; Troop 65, six years; and DFW No. 8.

Ashland Farm Bureau salutes success

August 31st, 2006 Contributing Writers

ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland County Farm Bureau recognized members for their efforts during the program year and determined policies for the coming year during the farm group’s annual meeting at Maple Grove Church.
Marilyn Byers, retiring Ashland county commissioner, was recognized for her support of agriculture in the county during her tenure as commissioner.
Byers’ active involvement in the agricultural community and willingness to listen to the public’s concerns made her a friend of agriculture and Farm Bureau, leaders said.
State update. Gail Betterly and Bob Slicker, members of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation board of trustees, gave the members an update on activities taking place at the state level.
Betterly told the group membership organizations such as Farm Bureau take a little bit from each member to make them successful.
She stressed the need for those in agriculture to tell their story.
“We can’t be afraid to tell people how to become members of Farm Bureau and help you tell your story,” she said.
Slicker concurred with Betterly.
“We are 600 miles from 60 percent of the population in the United States and Canada,” he said. “We need to talk to people who don’t know what we do and tell them why we do what we do,” he said.
County issues. Members supported policies to develop systems to supply quality water to the county; work with local zoning boards to ensure regulations protect agricultural land and enterprises; and work with the county engineer to increase the installation of solar-powered signs.
State issues. Proposed state policies dealt with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District, the sale of raw milk, drainage laws, and lengthening the deer hunting season.
National issues. National policies dealt with tamper-proof identification cards for migrant workers, tax credits and other incentives for developing alternative energy, controlling Canada geese, and supporting a change in interstate commerce laws to allow states to regulate the amount of trash they must accept from other states.
Accomplishments. Volunteer leaders recognized for their accomplishments were: Tracy McCrea, advisory councils and young farmers; Maxine Swaisgood, ag ecology; Randy Welch, government affairs; Mary Ann Forbes, information; Julia Swain, Nationwide sponsorship; Ron Augenstein, policy development; Jim Bernhard, promotion and education; Norm Hileman, safety; and Dick Forbes, membership.
The county was also recognized for receiving nine out of 10 stars in the states program areas.
Four councils were recognized for their involvement in Farm Bureau during the year. Awards were presented to Happy Trails; Korova Council; GHL Council; and United 61.
Election. Elected as trustees for a three-year term were Ron Augenstein, Jim Bernhard, Terry Swaisgood, and Willard Welch.
Dan Eichelberger was elected as trustee-at-large.
Delegates to the 2007 Ohio Farm Bureau Federation annual meeting will be Ron Augenstein, Jim Bernhard, Dan Eichelberger, and Maxine Swaisgood, with Christy Lahmers and Harold Swain as alternates.
Speaker. Guest speaker for the evening was Ron Eberhard, an estate planning specialist and motivational speaker.
“Leaders welcome fresh ideas, they don’t care who owns them,” he said. “Welcome new ideas with an open mind, but ideas bring nothing unless they are carried out.”

Dairymen call for new pricing system

August 24th, 2006 Former Farm and Dairy Reporters

SALEM, Ohio – Ohio dairyman Bryan Wolfe is sick of low milk prices so he, along with the National Family Farm Coalition, sent a letter straight to the top: to President Bush.
There’s “rampant corruption in the dairy industry,” they wrote, and the government is ignoring it.
The only way to deal with it is a thorough investigation into the industry, they said.
Trading. Critics say the problem is the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).
Block and barrel cheddar cheese is bought and sold on the CME, and those trades set the milk prices for farmers across the country.
But there aren’t enough traders, Wolfe said. Just a handful of buyers and sellers can manipulate dairy prices either up or down, he said.
“This persistent, malicious manipulation … (causes) chaos for the dairy farmers,” the coalition wrote in its letter to Bush.
Getting a response? These complaints aren’t anything new.
In April 2005, dairymen met with CME executives and demanded more transparency into who is trading and how it’s affecting the prices. During the meeting, a small group rallied outside, some wearing cow costumes.
A second rally was held this spring.
But, still, nothing is happening, Wolfe said.
That may change. Not only did the National Family Farm Coalition take its concerns to Bush, but last month a group of six senators asked the U.S. Government Accountability Office to investigate the CME.
They asked for answers to 11 questions about price discovery, manipulation and oversight.
Those senators include Arlen Specter, R-Pa., Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y, and Russell Feingold, D-Wis.
So far, no response, according to Zach Lowe, Feingold’s press secretary.
Investigation. Although it wasn’t by the Government Accountability Office, an investigation was started in 2004.
The Department of Justice spent a year and a half looking into dairy pricing, but funding for the investigation was cut in October 2005, explained National Family Farm Coalition in its letter to the president.
This resulted in a price drop in dairy commodities cash trading, Wolfe said.
Cheddar cheese prices fell from $1.59 a pound to $1.12 a pound for 40-pound blocks. This meant the milk price paid to farmers also flattened – by $4 a hundredweight, according to National Family Farm Coalition.
These concerns about dairy price manipulation have been around for years.
A study in 1996 proved the National Cheese Exchange in Wisconsin was susceptible to manipulation. Because of this, it closed a year later and trading moved to Chicago.
Critics say the same questionable practices at the National Cheese Exchange also moved to the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
Illegal? Like the CME, the national exchange was investigated when cheese prices dropped but there was never evidence of illegal activity, said Bob Cropp, dairy economist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
He guesses the same is true on the CME: There isn’t illegal trading, but the market can be manipulated.
The exchange’s role is to determine the cheese price that reflects the market, he said. As this type of market discovery mechanism, the CME is not perfect.
The proof, Cropp said, is when prices appear to be either too high or too low in the short run.
New system needed. The bottom line is there needs to be a new dairy pricing system based on regional production, according to New York dairyman John Bunting.
The current market isn’t the true balance of supply and demand that you learn about in economics class, he said. Instead, dairy and cheese are “thin” markets, meaning there are few traders.
Kraft and Dairy Farmers of America dominate block cheese trading on the CME and there’s a near-perfect correlation between that trading and the farm milk price, he said.
Several traders have 100 percent influence over raw milk prices, Bunting said. Instead, there needs to be a system where these traders have a voice in the market, but not the only voice, he said.
They’re only doing what comes naturally and what they need to do to make a profit, Bunting said; they aren’t the “bad guys.”
But government policy-makers are, he criticized. They aren’t enforcing anti-trust regulations or making policy in the public’s interests.
“We need a resilient food supply system,” Bunting said, adding that the public won’t get it with recent ag policy because it’s “twisted and distorted.”
Solution? Talk about a new system isn’t anything new, Cropp said.
One suggestion he’s heard about is to expand the CME to other cheeses, such as mozzarella. The problem is other cheeses aren’t a standardized product.
Another idea is to use the Class III futures market as price discovery but this also has received a lukewarm reception, he said.
Both these alternatives would allow more activity on the CME, meaning more buyers and sellers, but they also have drawbacks, he said.
“What is the alternative?” Cropp asked. “It’s not easy to come up with one.”

Conserving a legacy

April 20th, 2006 Former Farm and Dairy Reporters

BARNESVILLE, Ohio – Don Guindon stomps his boots, hangs his Select Sires hat on a peg, rolls up the sleeves on his flannel shirt and comes in for lunch.
He settles around the oak dinner table, bows his head for a moment, then passes the rice and chicken.
It seems like a typical lunch in a farmhouse kitchen, but it isn’t. One thing makes that startlingly clear.
Across the hall from where Don sits eating his chicken thigh, 70 chairs scrape across the floor, plates clatter and a cacophony of teenage voices rings through the room.
Instead of a farmhouse, Don came to a school for his noon meal.
This school, and its history, is what has shaped his Belmont County dairy farm into one of the leading conservation operations in the state.
A mission. Quakers founded Olney Friends School, a boarding high school, in the early 1800s, and the farm soon followed.
For years, the farm’s mission was to raise food for the students. The cupboards were filled with canned vegetables from the garden and fruit from the orchard. Beef, butchered on-site, was stored in the freezers and fresh milk lined the refrigerators.
But in the 1960s, things changed. Regulations cracked down on canning, butchering and raw milk.
About the same time, however, the Taber family donated its farm to the school.
With more acreage and a registered Jersey herd, then-farm manager Cliff Guindon, Don’s father, turned the farm’s emphasis to dairy production. That focus remains today with the 55-head milking herd Don manages.
The school and farm were founded on Quaker principles of simplicity and conservation, and they are still the undercurrent of both operations.
The Guindon name. Just like the farm and school are steeped in history, so is the Guindon legacy at Olney.
Cliff Guindon attended the boarding school in the ’40s and took over as the farm’s manager in 1956. He remained here for more than 30 years, while his children pitched stalls, baled hay and eventually attended the school themselves.
One of them, Don, returned shortly after getting his production agriculture degree from Wilmington College. After working on the farm for more than a decade, he was named manager in 1994.
Guided by the two Guindons and another manager in the early 1990s, Garth Parsons, the farm has turned into a conservation centerpiece in Belmont County.
Ever since the county Soil and Water Conservation District opened its doors in 1945, the school and farm have been seeking, and offering, help.
In fact, 55 out of the 61 years the district has been operating, someone from the school’s farm committee has been on the board.
Having these ties put the farm on the forefront of conservation in the county.
The Guindons were one of the first farmers calibrating their manure spreaders and introducing rotational grazing. In 1993, they also put in the county’s first covered animal waste facilities. Then they hosted tours at the farm to share what they’d learned.
Don also was quick to develop a resource management plan and a certified nutrient management plan. He farms the hills in contour strips and is adamant about sticking to his crop rotations.
Just because the farm has led the way in conservation, doesn’t mean everything is cutting edge.
With a peeling barn and 36 dated stanchions, Don said he can’t modernize Taber Farm as quickly as he might his own.
The school’s focus is on education and students, not fancy new parlors, he said.
But simplicity, conservation and preservation have kept the school and farm thriving for almost two centuries.
It’s obviously working, he said.
‘Coming alive.’ Parents see these efforts and love it, Don said. They see their children eating fresh fruit from the orchard and vegetables from the garden and home-grown meat, now butchered in town. They see the Jerseys’ big dark eyes and milk flowing through the milkers. They see the calves and the puppies, and they like the idea of their children living here.
The reality is many students shy away from the farm unless they are on “barn duty,” Don said.
Even he admits when he was a boy tagging along behind his father, he didn’t quite picture himself ever choosing to do this. But as you get older, you appreciate things more, he said, and he counts on this being true for the students as well.
Mostly, though, it’s Don’s brother Leonard who cultivates the students’ agricultural and conservation interests.
Leonard Guindon teaches math and science at the school and uses any chance he can to pull students out to the farm.
Whether he’s dropping pumpkins off the silo for a lesson on conceptual physics or using artificial insemination to show biology, Leonard works agriculture into his lesson plans.
“All that stuff is in their textbook but to be able to show them … it makes the subject come alive,” he said.
These students aren’t necessarily going to decide to become farmers, Leonard said, but at least they’ll have some knowledge of where their food comes from.
A continuation. One of these students Leonard is trying to reach is his niece Allison, Don’s daughter.
Although she spends more time in that noisy lunchroom than on the farm with her dad, Don still has her – and all the school’s future generations – in mind when he farms.
“[Conservation] isn’t just a trend that was recently started on our farm, but a continuation of some practices that have been ongoing for over 100 years,” Don wrote in his application for this year’s Ohio Environmental Stewardship award.
“We want to see that it continues for the next 100.”
Perhaps as a good omen to that wish, the farm won the award.

What is Olney Friends School?

Olney Friends School is a college prep boarding high school in Belmont County, Ohio. About 60 students are currently attending and come from many different countries.
It was founded in 1837 by the Religious Society of Friends, and still draws on traditional Quaker values. These include truthfulness, simplicity, nonviolence and respect for the good in every person.
For more information about Olney Friends School, call 800-303-4291 or visit www.olneyfriends.org.

(Source: Olney Friends School)

(Reporter Kristy Hebert welcomes feedback by phone at 800-837-3419, ext. 23 or by e-mail at khebert@farmanddairy.com.)

Washington farm fined as E. coli source

March 30th, 2006 Other News

OLYMPIA, Wash. – After completing an investigation of Dee Creek Farm of Woodland, the Washington State Department of Agriculture announced March 23 it would assess a civil penalty of $8,000 against the unlicensed dairy operation.
Dee Creek Farm’s unpasteurized or “raw” milk was the source of an E. coli O157:H7 outbreak that sickened at least 18 people in the Vancouver, Washington-Portland, Oregon area in December.
Three children were admitted to local intensive care units as a result of the infection.
No tests, license. After a joint investigation by the department and local health departments, Dee Creek Farm was found to be distributing raw milk without the required dairy milk producer or milk processing licenses.
None of the farm’s five cows had the required tests that certify the animals to be free of tuberculosis or brucellosis.
The farm has the opportunity to request a hearing before an administrative law judge to contest the investigative findings and the penalty.
Since the E. coli outbreak, Dee Creek Farm has been under a cease and desist order issued by the Cowlitz County Health Department that prohibits the dairy from distributing milk products.
Warning. On Aug. 11, 2005, the state ag department sent Dee Creek Farm a warning letter and license application after a Portland, Oregon newspaper reported that the dairy was distributing raw milk. The agency informed the dairy that unlicensed sale of raw milk is illegal, including milk distributed through a cow share arrangement.
Dee Creek Farm responded to the ag department by denying that they were selling milk, but expressed interest in becoming licensed. The farm has never submitted a license application.