Approximately 400 people from Jefferson County and around the state came out to the 2018 JFAN Annual Meeting on October 24 to hear how farmers can raise livestock without CAFOs. There ARE Alternatives to Factory Farms featured Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin speaking on an innovative poultry-centered regenerative farm that he designed as the Chief Strategy Officer for the Main Street Project in Minnesota.
The farm mimics the natural forest and jungle habitats of chickens using an outdoor rotational grazing system under a canopy of hazelnut trees and an understory of other vegetation. The trees protect the chickens, hazelnuts provide them with food, and their manure fertilizes the trees. The chickens are housed indoors with straw bedding during the evening and winter months.
Marroquín said the inspiration for this farm arose from growing up in poverty in his native Guatemala. His family always had food, he said, because of the way his father raised chickens using regenerative means in the forested area of his home.
Maharishi University of Management will be adapting and adopting the poultry farm to provide eggs for their student meal program. MUM Farm Manager Kris Johnson spoke of the university's involvement and plans for implementation during a panel discussion that also included Dean Goodale, CEO of New Legacy Pork, and Chris Petersen, a lifelong independent hog farmer raising Berkshire hogs using respectful, responsible, and regenerative agricultural practices. Francis Thicke, co-owner of Radiance Dairy and a member of the JFAN board of directors, moderated the panel discussion.
Goodale shared news of his fledgling company, New Legacy Pork, which connects independent, traditional hog farmers with a market through a contract with the food distribution giant Daymon International. He said Daymon will take all the pork that New Legacy Pork can provide. Approximately 15 regional farmers have already signed with New Legacy Pork to start. The company is able to provide a solid financial return with the expectation that within a short time, farmers may have the ability to raise hogs for New Legacy Pork on a full-time basis.
Chris Petersen, who is also an Iowa Consultant with the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project, spoke on how he raises hogs using traditional animal husbandry practices. Petersen said the traditional method of farming that he's practiced for nearly 30 years was originally considered mainstream agriculture; now it's called "niche or alternative production." The industry calls people raising hogs "pork producers" said Petersen, but "I don't raise pork. I'm not a pork producer. I'm a pig farmer. I raise pigs."
In his Prenote to the JFAN Annual Meeting, Dr. John Ikerd said, "We frequently hear promoters of CAFOs say there are no viable alternative to CAFOs. That is simply not true. JFAN is an educational organization and we work to expose this and other myths about CAFOs." Dr. Ikerd quoted from Iowa's Right to Farm law, saying it provides a means for county supervisors to establish an agricultural zone to encourage regenerative farming and discourage CAFO development.
JFAN President and Executive Director Diane Rosenberg pointed out that Jefferson County residents are making a difference locally and around the state with a host of actions they've taken to address recent infringing factory farms and to support a factory farm moratorium. "Everyone who was engaged in these fights are making a difference for Jefferson County. All of you deserve a warm round of applause for all your efforts to stand up, speak out and say 'Not on our watch.'”
There ARE Alternatives to Factory Farms was recorded, and you can view the presentations here.
Here are some photographs for you to enjoy from the meeting.