Alfred State College (ASC) and the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) are pleased to announce a partnership to establish Pioneer Farm, a model farm to be operated by the college in accordance with Animal Welfare Approved  standards. It will focus on teaching grazing systems and animal husbandry practices that enhance land use and animal well-being. The Animal Welfare Approved program was recently lauded by the World Society for the Protection of Animals as having the highest animal welfare standards of any third party certifier in the US and currently has certified more than 600 farms whose products bear the Animal Welfare Approved seal.
In addition to providing a grant to support Pioneer Farm operations, AWI will provide funding for a minimum of eight annual scholarships for college students who demonstrate interest in high welfare husbandry and grazing systems.
Alfred State College and the Animal Welfare Institute will partner in creating an exemplary model on Pioneer Farm. The following principles guide the vision of the farm: the humane treatment of animals from birth through slaughter; the creation of a more satisfactory environment for the farmer and a more valuable product for the consumer; the development of practices that improve animal well-being, which are also likely to improve environmental stewardship and increase overall farm profitability; the development of a viable model of small-scale farming which is essential to the health of rural communities; and the sustainability of independent, high-welfare family farms.
"Because soaring grain, fuel, and land prices are prompting livestock producers toward managed grazing systems, this is an opportune time for us to join forces with the Animal Welfare Approved program to model and teach modern grazing systems," said Dr. Matthew Harbur, assistant professor, Agriculture and Horticulture Department and director, Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture at Alfred State College.
"We are pleased to partner with Alfred State College to create a model farm where we can support the next generation of high-welfare farmers," said Cathy Liss, president of the Animal Welfare Institute. She continued, "We are also looking forward to having the ability to work with Alfred State for continuing education programs and training of our auditors and field staff. This is a fantastic opportunity for the College, the Animal Welfare Approved program, the students, farm animals and family farmers."
Pioneer Farm will include 40 cleared acres of pasture, hay, and small grain fields for animal husbandry; 50 acres of woodlot; animal housing; pasture fencing, watering, and feeding systems; equipment for cleaning barns, producing crops, and other farm operations; and classroom and laboratory space. The farm grounds are located within the Alfred State College Farm Laboratory, but managed separately from other Alfred State College animal operations. Additionally, the Center for Organic and Sustainable Agriculture (COSA) will provide organizational assistance to faculty experts interested in participating in workshops on organic production, local food systems, and sustainable energy technologies.
Programming at Pioneer Farm will include courses in managed grassland agriculture and silviculture (woodland production) and the practical implication of high animal welfare.
For information about Pioneer Farm, please contact Dr. Matthew Harbur (Alfred State College) at (607) 587-4714 or Diane Halverson at (703) 836-4300.