Raising Livestock Without CAFOs
Watch the JFAN Annual Meeting Here
It’s possible to make a difference – and a profit – raising livestock using regenerative and humane practices. The 2022 JFAN Annual Meeting Raising Livestock Without CAFOs: A Conversation with Two Farmers on Raising Animals Sustainably features Will Harris of White Oak Pastures and Greg Gunthorp of Gunthorp Farm, exploring the opportunities and challenges of farming in a traditional, independent manner. The meeting takes place on Wednesday, November 2 beginning at 7:00 pm on Zoom.
Each farm is different in size, and each farmer has his own unique story of how he came to develop his farming operation. The meeting starts with short talks by each farmer sharing the history of their farms and the
philosophy behind their practices.
But the majority of the meeting will consist of a rich panel discussion exploring the many aspects of independent farming including the opportunities and challenges of becoming profitable in a predominantly agribusiness environment. Questions from participants are warmly welcome.
About the Farmers - Will Harris and Greg Gunthorp
Will Harris is a fourth-generation Georgia cattleman, who tends the same land in that his great-grandfather settled in 1866. Born and raised at White Oak Pastures, Harris left to attend the University of Georgia's School of Agriculture, where he was trained in the industrial farming methods. Will graduated in 1976 and returned to Bluffton where he and his father continued to raise cattle using pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and antibiotics. They also fed their herd a high-carbohydrate diet of corn and soy.
In the mid-1990s Harris became disenchanted with the excesses of these industrialized methods. In 1995, Will made the audacious decision to return to the farming methods his great-grandfather had used 130 years before and now manages the farm as a living ecosystem.
White Oak Pastures raises 10 species of livestock, including hogs, cattle, lamb and poultry, in a humane and regenerative manner. It contains on-farm USDA inspected red meat and poultry abattoirs designed by Dr. Temple Grandin. The farm employs over 155 people and has revitalized the Bluffton area.
Since Will has successfully implemented these changes, he has been recognized all over the world as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability. Will is the immediate past President of the Board of Directors of Georgia Organics. He is the Beef Director of the American Grassfed Association and was selected 2011 Business Person of the year for Georgia by the Small Business Administration.
Meanwhile in LaGrange, Indiana, fourth-generation hog farmer Greg Gunthorp operates Gunthop Farms along with his wife and three kids where they raise pastured pigs, ducks and turkeys. Gunthorp runs a regenerative operation using intensive rotational grazing. His pastured poultry operation is the largest in the nation.
The farm also includes an on-farm full USDA inspected slaughter and processing plant, one of three in the country licensed to slaughter both hogs and poultry.
In 1998 when hog prices bottomed out, Gunthorp turned to niche markets and creative marketing strategies to increase his farm’s profits.
Over the years he developed relationshipswith Chicago chefs to build a vibrant restaurant business. He sells to consumers through retail outfits, a popular Chicago Farmers Market, and through his website. The result is a successful direct market farming operation that employees 30 people and six family members.
Gunthorp is active in the Sustainable Agriculture network and speaks around the country on pasture livestock production as well as operating a very small processing plant using ecological water treatment. He’s on the advocacy committee of the American Grassfed Association and currently a member of the USDA National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection. Gunthrop recently served on the Pew/Meridian Meat and Poultry Inspection Dialogue and previously was a member of a small farm advisor panel to President Clinton.
Register here for Raising Livestock Without CAFOs. The meeting is free and open to the public.
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