Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.
The Extinction of 4H
May 01, 2014
Disgusted & Ashamed!
As our brown fields turn a blessed green, calves start hitting the ground and producers ready their hay equipment for 1st cutting in about a month, 4H kids are getting excited about the upcoming months and showing the animals they spend countless hours training for the judging ring at their local fairs. Maybe.
We breed and raise pastured pigs on our farm and we sell the 7 week old weaned piglets to other farmers that raise them for butcher hogs, we also raise a few to butcher weight to harvest and offer as cuts in our on-farm store. But the best thing about selling piglets is the smile the 4H kids get on their faces when they come to pick out the one or two or three they want to raise and show at their local fair or fairs. We also have a web-site for our farm and because of that we receive e-mail’s and phone call’s from producers from all over the country. It’s astounding how far some folks are willing to travel for pastured pigs. We’re located in Northeast Pennsylvania and we have folks contact us from as far away as Iowa!
Earlier today I received a call from a gentleman in Southwestern New Jersey that’s looking for a few piglets for his kids to raise for 4H. Unfortunately our most recent litter and the next one due in August are all spoken for. It’s always disappointing for us when we can’t help our kids that want to learn how to raise livestock. But that isn’t the worst of it. This gentleman was telling me that they’ve been looking for the last few weeks and have even traveled to the New Holland, PA area and attended "4H Auctions" where they sell animals specifically for 4H kids to raise and show. We charge what we feel is fair for our animals and obviously our customers feel its fair also or we wouldn’t be selling out every litter, but he told me that weaned piglets (approx. 6-7 weeks old), were going for $400-$600 each at auction!! THAT’S CRAZY!! It’s also ripping off/stealing from the next generation of hopeful farmers.
Throughout the year, 4-H members hand feed and care for their animals, attend educational workshops, and complete a quality assurance training program. They learn about keeping animals healthy and completing successful livestock projects. On the day of the 4-H Judging & Auction the projects end with the sale of 4-H project animals. After the auction, members look forward to the purchase of the next year’s project animal.
Can you imagine the heartbreak of your child’s animal not even placing at the fair? Than think about having spent $300 - $600 for one piglet, than having to care and feed the animal for 4-5 months. If these insane prices kids & their parents are being forced to pay greedy producers continue, HSUS will be ecstatic because next year there won’t be any animal judging at your local fair because no one will be able to afford to purchase the animals!
All this is, is taking advantage of a bad situation for personal monetary gain. You might be asking, why? Why are piglets sooooo expensive? If you produce piglets, know someone who does or at the very least watch the evening news, you’ve seen that there is a virus that is killing millions of young piglets across our country. In return this "scare" is obscenely inflating the cost of all pork products starting with the piglets.
Here’s a little information about this virus that might be good for you to know as a consumer and/or producer.
The virus is called Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea or "PED". The USDA has confirmed that porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) has been identified in the United States for the first time through testing at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory. This is not a new virus, nor is it a regulatory/reportable disease. Since PEDV is widespread in many countries, it is not a trade-restricting disease, but rather a production-related disease. PEDV may appear clinically to be the same as transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE) virus with acute diarrhea.
The virus is not a new virus as it was first recognized in England in 1971. Since then, the disease has been identified in a number of European countries, and more recently in China, Korea and Japan. "This has become one of the most serious and devastating diseases our pig farmers have faced in decades," said Karen Richter, a Minnesota producer and president of the National Pork Board. "While it has absolutely no impact on food safety, it has clear implications for the pork industry in terms of supplying pork to consumers.
In closing I’d just like speak directly to my fellow pork producers, if you are participating in an 4H auction this spring, please do it for the right reason. It’s for the kid’s. Not for you and your wallet.