Local farms receive grant to foster ethical eating

ADDISON COUNTY — A group of Vermont farmers, including several in Addison County, is working together to steer consumers toward humane-certified animal products.
The group received a $5,000 grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Food Animal Concerns Trust to create Ethical Eater Vermont, a website that lists the stores, restaurants and farms that sell products from animal welfare-certified farms.
“We’re hoping the website will spark the consumer awareness so people will go to their food stores and say, ‘Hey, I want some certified humane products,’” said beef cattle farmer Bob Fireovid of Health Hero Farm in South Hero.
Fireovid worked with Blue Ledge Farm in Salisbury, Ice House Farm in Goshen, Scuttleship Farm in Panton, Spotted Dog Family Farm in Brandon, Longest Acres Farm in Chelsea; Big Picture Farm in Townshend, and Cloverworks Farm in Irasburg to create the program.
All the farms in the group are certified through one of three humane certification programs approved by the ASPCA, Fireovid said. Most received their certification through the organization A Greener World, which charges a nominal fee to audit, Fireovid said.
“The certification programs require an extra level of management,” Fireovid said. “Farmers have to ensure they take good care of their livestock, they have got to provide records and they have to make sure they use correct practices.”
The website, ethicaleatervt.org, also provides information about regenerative agriculture, where ruminants are grazed in a manner aimed at generating fertile topsoil.
There are dozens of restaurants on the website list, some of them very high-end, but the only products listed as humane certified at those restaurants are goat cheese and grass-fed beef. Consumer demand is the only way to get more farms to seek humane certification, Fireovid said.
“There’s got to be more of a market pull,” he said.
The website is a way to show people that it’s possible to produce meat and dairy products on a small and humane scale, said Chad Beckwith, who owns Ice House Farm with his wife Morgan Beckwith.
“You can do it in a way which is actually good for the environment and planet,” he said.
The couple milks 36 goats at their farm and rotates the goats on pasture to optimize the health of the animals and the land, Chad Beckwith said.
“Animal welfare is one of the top priorities” at the farm, he added.
Fireovid, 67, started farming six years ago after a career as a scientist for the US Department of Agriculture in the Washington, D.C., area. He raises grass-fed beef on organic pasture.
“They’re certified humane, so they are pretty healthy, and we think the food that they give us is very healthy for people too,” he said.

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