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It's not my intent to have deep, soul searching type posts every week but it sure seems like we find ourselves in that position quite often. As beginning farmers we are trying to create an identity for our farm. But what do we want that identity to say about our farm (and us)? It sounds great to say that we want to be a farm that is 100% certified organic and Step 5+ GAP certified practicing some of the most humane treatment of farm animals possible. But then you take a closer look and see how unpractical a lot of that really is. For a farm our size, it's hard to make money paying for those kinds of certifications and jumping through all the hoops required to earn those designations. It's equally difficult to get the premium you need to make it pencil out on paper but consumers face a similar conundrum in that ideally they would buy nothing but 100% organic and ultra humane products. But guess what, the majority of folks don't because they feel it costs too much. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm just saying that we are experiencing the same thing from the farmer/producer side. It's what we would love to do, in a perfect world, but it's not a perfect world so we have to decide whether we would rather do something a little more profitable and more enjoyable.

I've been asked to be on a council that will promote the humane treatment of farm animals. This council will bring criticism from both sides. Farmers who say we're trying to take away their livelihood and animals rights folks that   say no animal should be raised for the purpose of slaughter. That's where all these questions started. I thought to myself - "Self, how do I feel about all this? What will I say to all these critics from each extreme?". And that's when I began to realize that's exactly what they were - extremes. Just because we won't be in the top tier of some organization's definition of humane doesn't mean that I'm a terrible person and it doesn't mean that my animals aren't happy and healthy. Just because I feel that all animals should be raised in a humane manner doesn't mean I want to put your feedlot/hog confinement facility out of business. Instead, I want to show you how you can raise your animals in a way that is better for them and more profitable for you. We feel like we can raise our animals in a very humane fashion, using organic and sustainable practices in a way that we can make a profit, enjoy what we're doing and feel good about the way we're doing it. Will everything be 100% certified organic? Probably not. Will we be operating in the top tier of some organizations humane standards? Probably not. But guess what, I'm OK with that.

This will not be the last time we re-evaluate our practices, our farm's direction and our ideals and I don't want it to be. But for now, I feel pretty good about it.

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