Recent Articles About Animal Welfare

Nine years ago, writer and photographer Shreve Stockton stumbled into a role as an internet sensation when she adopted an orphaned baby coyote named Charlie. She started an immensely popular photo blog called the Daily Coyote, which tracked Charlie’s growth as he bonded with Stockton and the other animals in their lives. The blog eventually led to a book deal. Read more

Aubrey Fletcher knew she wanted to work on a dairy farm ever since she was a little girl.

“I do remember my mom asking, ‘Are you sure that’s what you want to do?’” Fletcher recalls.

Fletcher knew the work was tough, she grew up milking cows every day. After college she and her husband wanted to return to his family farm, but it wasn’t making financial sense.

“The farm couldn’t necessarily  provide both of us with salaries,” says Fletcher. “So we thought, ‘Why not take our premium milk and take that a little further?’”

The Fletchers started Edgewood Creamery outside of Springfield, Missouri, last August. They recently opened a storefront on the farm selling their milk and cheese.

Between the new business, milkings, feedings, and fixing things that need to get fixed, there is a lot to do.

“There’s always something to be done on the farm. And very rarely my house gets clean,” Fletcher says laughing.

Aubrey Fletcher is one of thousands of women stepping out of the shadows of the male-dominated farm world to take more leadership roles on the farm. In the past 15 years the fraction of women who are taking the lead has nearly tripled to about 15 percent of all U.S. farms. Nearly one-third of farms in this country are run by couples working together.

Despite the busy workload, Fletcher has been meeting regularly with a new group of women dairy farmers in her area. She says having a space to come together with other women has been huge.

“Because they can relate to you,” Fletcher says. “They understand that, ‘Oh, you had three calves this morning and you didn’t get your kids to school on time.’ They understand the struggles of being a dairy-farm-wife-slash-mom, and it’s easy to just talk to them about the struggles, and the good times.”

Women-Focused Extension Groups

Groups designed for farm women are not just about the social and emotional support. They serve an educational role as well.

Reagan Bluel, a dairy specialist for the University of Missouri Extension who runs the group of women dairy farmers in Southern Missouri, says she started it out of a growing need she was hearing from women in her area.

“This is another forum to gather information both from extension but also from their peers to see what is successful on those farms,” says Bluel.

The daily grind of agricultural work can make it hard for farmers to get off the farm, Bluel says.

It can be very isolating,” Bluel says. “And so sometimes it takes scheduling yourself to leave the farm.”

In the next few months she’ll program sessions about everything from calf-raising to stress management.

Many women are used to standing out at big farm shows or meetings, and that’s why Rebecca Connelly started a group for women in dairy in Pennsylvania.

“The role of women on farms has always been there it’s just now women are looking for more information off the farm.”

Connelly says women want more training, they’re seeking out more entrepreneurial opportunities like starting a creamery, and they’re trying to bring a competitive edge to their farm. They also see the value of networking on social media and through these groups. Connelly and her colleagues are organizing a national conference for women dairy workers this year so they can come together to learn from experts and each other.

“Women want to meet other women in agriculture,” Connelly says. “Sometimes they don’t necessarily get out there to see their neighbors or across counties. So this is a great way to meet other women in their area, as well as finding out more resources that are available to them.”

 

This article originally appeared on Harvest Public Media.

A few weeks ago, we introduced our readers to Patrick Holden, a farmer and the director of the UK-based Sustainable Food Trust. This weekend, Patrick is bringing together hundreds of scientists, advocates, business leaders, and journalists for a three-day conference in San Francisco on the True Cost of American Food. He points out that while food in the developed world is cheaper than at any other point in history, the resources required to grow and make it—and the environmental and health impacts of doing so—are costing governments and taxpayers a great deal. Read more

All eyes have been on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, but it is by no means the only city where the poorest residents face environmental damage and lax government oversight.

Further to the South, in rural North Carolina, another, less-known battle is taking shape. This crisis involves the lasting impact of pollution from large concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) housing pigs. Now a group of citizens is claiming that the state’s $3 billion pork industry is disposing of its waste in a manner that disproportionately and negatively affects residents of color, and that the negotiating efforts are being stalled by the pork industry. Read more

Last week, Target, Denny’s, and Taco John’s vowed to start using cage-free eggs. The week before it was ConAgra, Mondelez International, and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Spurred by consumer demand and pressure from animal welfare advocates like the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), these pledges are part of a recent landslide from more than 35 companies committing to using 100 percent cage-free eggs in the next five to 10 years.

It’s one of the most interesting cases of corporate peer pressure in recent times. Read more

With its focus on dense, whole grain breads, smoked fish, berries, and a high percentage of plants, Denmark’s Nordic diet has been called “the New Mediterranean diet.” Now, it seems that we might also benefit from studying the nation’s larger structural choices when it comes to making food.

From food waste reduction to better treatment of both animals and people working in the its food industry, here are some lessons that the U.S. could afford to learn from this small northern European nation. Read more

On most beef farms and ranches, calves are weaned from their mother when they’re around six months old. The tiny animals are introduced to a new diet, a new environment, and they have to learn new rules of social organization with their fellow calves.

You could compare it to a six-year-old child traveling to a different country without a parent and having to adjust to new foods, new surroundings, and new cultural norms. Read more

The holidays are a busy time—but many of us also paradoxically read more this time of year, thanks to travel, time off, and a slowed-down inbox. If you’re looking for your next big read or a gift for a food-minded friend, look no further. We asked our editors and contributors to recommend some of the books they enjoyed most this year. Read more