Our own Niman Ranch Founding Hog Farmer, Paul Willis, recently discussed his appearance on The Dr. Oz Show, and the importance of antibiotic-free pork and animal husbandry in the pork industry.
John Gilbert named 2017 Farmer of the Year
Each year, one farmer is honored as Niman Ranch’s Farmer of the Year. This exclusive recognition goes to a person who has stood out over the year for both the excellence with which they raise their hogs or manage their farm and the contributions they have made to Niman Ranch’s success. John Gilbert of Gibralter Farms was honored as the 2017 Farmer of the Year. The Gilberts, recipients of numerous awards and honors, operate a 770-acre diversified farm raising traditional pasture-farrowed pigs. John has served on the Niman Ranch Pork Company Advisory Board and is active with other groups such as Practical Farmers of Iowa. Gibralter Farms is a family operation with John and Beverly’s son and daughter-in-law and one of John’s five brothers and his wife working on the farm.
In the pre-antibiotic era, doctors were taught that they could not change the course of their patients’ illnesses. Their job, instead, was to make an accurate diagnosis so they could give an accurate prognosis to their patients. When antibiotics came along in the 1940’s, it totally revolutionized things. They are undoubtedly responsible for saving millions of human lives.
Unfortunately, inappropriate use of antibiotics could be threatening their ability to cure. As mentioned by Dr. Lance Price during his presentation at one of our conferences this past year, the conventional livestock industry’s low dose use of antibiotics is partially responsible for drug-resistant bacteria emerging on farms. This is thought to reach the general population through human or animal carriers, and through the food consumers eat.
Each season on the farm is different,year to year, region to region, based on anything from weather to corn prices and which of the kids is going to college. Here is some insight as to what some of our independent family hog farmers do when the fields fall dormant. You can be sure they keep very busy.
Many in the Midwest were hit with an early November snowfall that postponed harvest. Luckily, it warmed up enough to finish the harvest. December has been mild and fairly dry thus far, but farmers will not easily forget last winter’s record-breaking low temperatures. They’ll have to keep an eye out for frozen water sources to keep the hogs hydrated as the season progresses.
As with pork, beef and lamb, our eggs are laid by hens raised with all vegetarian feed, in housing approved by the Humane Farm Animal Care and American Humane Certified programs (cage-free) and are never-ever given antibiotics. This means they’re humanely raised, cage-free eggs that don’t contain the chemicals and medicines you find in most store-bought eggs.
Now, all egg producers selling in California have less than four months to establish similar, more humane standards for laying hens because of Proposition 2, also known as the California Standards for Confining Farm Animals Act. This new law will go into effect on January 1, 2015, so we’d like to share some information on what makes this proposition worth talking about.