Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Thank you to all our customers and others who responded so passionately on our behalf to the USDA call for comments on the proposed guidelines for small and very small meat plants. By speaking up for us, you spoke up for yourselves as well, and for the kind of life you want to live. We will keep you posted on any movements on this issue. The battle has probably just begun.

When needing to deal with the insanity of government, and the obstinate wrong headedness of bureaucrats that are too often in corporate pockets, it is a joy and pleasure to turn away again toward farming and that endless fascination with nature and growing things. Though nature is often a tough adversary it is also a balm to the troubled soul and a reminder that some things are bigger than politics. The weather has been wet here at Pastures A Plenty, meaning difficulty with getting the hay made and the row crop work done. However the grass is growing into a grazing beasts' paradise and it is a pure pleasure to walk out there and be part of it. One of the results of our change to long grass and slower cattle rotations is that the grassland birds seem to be having a better go at their nesting. Western meadowlarks with their multi noted songs, cattle and cat birds and killdeers are everywhere. The little wet weather slough is full of redwing blackbirds declaring territory. Red tail hawks bank and soar overhead. It would be a kind of sacrilege to walk out there with headphones on!

With the oil volcano gushing in the Gulf and destroying the livelihoods of so many families for decades to come as well as all the natural wonder and beauty of the place, I have been trying to imagine what it would be like for our entire farm to have been covered in six inches of salt, for instance. Or worse, if all the farms in our community had been. It is impossible to imagine the heavy changes we are forcing upon the Gulf and the people there.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


News lately is of controversy around raw milk and then too we have notified many of you of the coming USDA rulemaking for pathogen testing at small meats plants. It is important to us that everyone interested in our business, including certainly any who are customers or who might become customers know that our intention here at Pastures A Plenty is to continue to do everything we can to comply with regulations. We operate under license from and are inspected by the State of Minnesota at considerable cost to us. In addition, of course, our processor operates under the state "equal-to-USDA" licensing and will continue to do so. We are inspected by the Midwest Food Alliance for wholesomeness and humane treatment in our animal production, and meet Niman Ranch's standards along those lines as well. These licenses and certifications are important to us and will be kept up.

If you would like to make a comment to USDA about the proposed new pathogen testing requirements e-mail to: For a copy of the document proposing the extra testing, call the Small Plants help desk at (202)418-8820. The basic argument is that extra testing is unnecessary for small plants, as they do not slaughter and process 24/7 (ours slaughters once a week for a half day), and that it is a special hardship because the cost can be spread over a much lower volume of products than is the case with the mainstream meat industry. You need to respond by June 19th. Thanks!