Mary L Farm enters its 10th year of organic dairying

CM-MR-3-MaryL1aby Karl H. Kazaks

MT. ULLA, NC —  In 2006, Mary L Farm, operated by Rick and Dorcas Parker, was the first North Carolina dairy to be certified organic. Recently, two of the Parkers’ children, Taylor and Maurice, shared their perspective on what the past nine years have brought.

“Being organic is different, not easier, than conventional production,” said Taylor, who is a student at Catawba College and helps on the farm when not in school. “The transition brought a whole new set of struggles.” [Read more…]

New and improved animal identification system

CEW-BF-MR-Animal ID 1cby Sally Colby

Remember NAIS, or National Animal Identification System? It was the USDA program that was essentially abandoned after drawing ire from producers who thought the system was difficult and expensive to initiate. After dropping the concept of NAIS, USDA officials worked on developing a program that was more flexible and that would improve the ability to track animal movement across state lines, and came up with USDA/APHIS veterinarian Dr. Paul Pitcher says one justification for a national database of beef cattle is the international market. “Our consumers are present around the globe,” said Pitcher. “Producers in the United States are under the gun to be more responsive to the international customer. Animal traceability is becoming more important and will impact producers’ ability to make a profit.” [Read more…]

Local food and the USDA

by Tamara Scully

There isn’t a set definition of a local or regional food system within the USDA. But that doesn’t mean that local food isn’t a priority. In fact, local food systems are definitely on the USDA’s radar, and all initiatives focusing on local food are coordinated via the prominent Know Your Farmer/Know Your Food program.

Elanor Starmer, USDA’s National Coordinator and Advisor for Local and Regional Food Systems, outlined the characteristics of a local food system to a national audience, via a live webinar, “The Role of Cooperatives in Local Food Systems Development,” held earlier this fall. Local food systems have all phases of the lifecycle of the food take place within a defined region, Starmer said. And, the benefits of such a food system impact the immediate community. These benefits include social, economic, environmental and nutritional improvements. Additionally, products in a local food system are identified as “local,” and “a lot of other values are conveyed with that product,” she said. [Read more…]

Chance for trophy buck makes 2015 Virginia Farm Show the ideal destination

CM-MR-2-VAFarmShow7by Jon M. Casey

Would you like to go on the deer-hunting trip of a lifetime? Well, the 2015 Virginia Farm Show can possibly make that happen, if you attend and register for the grand door prize that will be awarded Saturday, Jan. 17, 2015 at the Lee Publications, Inc. exhibit. Just ask the 2014 winners, Bob and Margaret Chandler of Staunton, VA about how exciting this prize can be.

It was at the 2014 Virginia Farm Show that Richard Huff III, co-owner of Keystone Valley Ranch, drew Bob’s name as the Grand Prize winner of a $2,000 credit toward a deer-hunting trip to Keystone Valley Ranch near Shermansdale, PA. Bob and Margaret got their trophy buck in late October. [Read more…]