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Ohio farms recognized for environmental stewardship
By JANE HOUIN
Ohio Correspondent

COLUMBUS, Ohio — While some farms make headlines as a result of poor environmental practices, two Ohio livestock and poultry farms have been honored for the opposite. As a result of commitment to environmental conservation and protection, these two farms have been named National Environmental Stewardship Award winners.

Maken Bacon Farm of Nevada, in Wyandot County, Ohio, was recognized as one of four 2005 Environmental Steward Award winners by the National Pork Board and National Hog Farmer magazine at the 2006 National Pork Industry Forum recently in Kansas City. Similarly, Meiring Poultry and Fish Farm of Fort Recovery, in Mercer County, was presented with the Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award at the 2006 International Poultry Expo in Atlanta earlier this year.

Both had previously received similar recognition from the Ohio Pork Producers Council, Ohio Poultry Assoc. and Ohio Livestock Coalition (OLC). This is the fifth year an Ohio poultry farm and second consecutive year that a Buckeye state pork producer had received national recognition.

“It is important to recognize the positive environmental impact pork producers can have,” said Lynn Harrison, a pork producer from Elk Mound, Wisc. and member of the National Pork Board - as well as past winner of the National Pork Board’s Environmental Steward Award. “It is important to recognize the positive environmental impact pork producers can have. Honoring these producers at Forum allows other producers to get excited about this program.”

Both national organizations utilized similar criteria in determining their recipients. Candidates were evaluated as to how they minimized their operation’s footprint on the environment by working to preserve and improve water and air quality, to protect the land and to promote wildlife.

Specific factors considered included their manure management systems, nutrient management planning, community involvement, water and soil conservation practices, odor-control strategies, farm aesthetics and neighbor relations, wildlife habitat promotion and enhancement techniques, innovative ideas used to protect the environment and participation in educational or outreach programs.

“Some award winners employ new technologies, but others simply employ the sound environmental management practices that we believe are representative of all producers,” said Danita Rodibaugh, president of the National Pork Board.

“The Meiring Poultry and Fish Farm is an exemplary representation of the goals the Ohio Poultry Association has for all of its members,” reported Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association. “Ohio poultry farmers continue to refine their techniques and are creating a solid record of environmental stewardship. Meiring Farm receiving U.S. Poultry’s Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award is a further testament to the positive environmental programs implemented by Ohio’s egg and poultry producers.”

OLC Executive Director David White said Ohio has always been recognized and respected as a leader in the livestock industry. “These awards demonstrate that Ohio’s livestock and poultry producers are serving as outstanding role models for farmers throughout the country to follow,” White said.

Maken Bacon Farm
Brothers Randy and Tom Brown run the operation that began in 1951 and today consists of a 600-sow, farrow-to-finish enterprise surrounded by approximately 1,200 acres of corn and soybeans. Their mother, Anne, manages the farm’s books.

Manure produced at the farm is held in pits under the barns and in one holding pond. It is incorporated into the soil through injection or with a disk plow immediately after it is spread.

Manure is tested prior to injection to match nutrient availability to soil requirements.

Strict water conservation and protection measures are enforced at Maken Bacon. Filter strips along road ditches and waterways minimize runoff; manure hauling and spreading is done away from waterways, wells, ditches and streams. Practices are in place to minimize water waste in production. Air quality and odor are addressed with abundant trees and practices that keep dust and odor from the hog barns to a minimum.

The Browns and their families all live in the farm’s vicinity and believe it is their responsibility to continue with the family tradition of farming and caring for the environment.

Meiring Poultry & Fish Farm
Herb and Georgiana Meiring started the farm as a pullet operation in 1942. Today, the North Central region winner is owned, operated and managed by Jim and Sharon (Meiring) Zehringer along with their three children, Julie, John and Kristen, and son-in-law, Mike Bruns.

The farm has adopted strategic environmental farming techniques for its composting methods and manure nutrient management. To maximize the synergy between agriculture enterprises, the farm’s composting methods typically incorporate agriculture byproducts, such as straw or wood shavings, in the operation.

Besides poultry and egg production, the Meiring Farm also grows corn and soybeans using minimum tillage and no-till methods. In 1998, the farm brought a new type of agriculture to Mercer County when it added aquaculture as an additional enterprise. Today, it produces tilapia for sale at live markets across Ohio.

“We are grateful for this recognition,” said Jim Zehringer. “The Meiring Poultry and Fish Farm prides itself on continually implementing environmentally friendly practices.”

This farm news was published in the March 15, 2006 issue of Farm World.

3/15/2006