Steve Ritter is proud enough of his distinction as a Certified Livestock Producer that he posted the sign he received for completing the program right next to the sign for Sandy Springs Farm. He and his wife, Pam, operate the beef farm in western Jackson County. He sent me a picture of both signs.
CERTIFIED: Steve Ritter, a Jackson County beef producer, displays a sign letting others know that he and his family completed the voluntary Certified Livestock Producer Program.
Ritter should be proud of his accomplishment. And letting neighbors and others who drive by know that he has that certification by posting the sign is a positive move. Even if people who see the sign aren’t familiar with the program, they should get the notion that the farmer who operates Sandy Springs Farm has gone above and beyond to meet certain criteria for his industry. That’s what certification is all about in any industry.
The Certified Livestock Producer Program in Indiana is strictly voluntary. It’s administered through the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. Several dozen producers have completed the certification process and can display the same sign that Ritter has. About a dozen livestock producers who had recently completed the program were honored with a special recognition luncheon at the Indiana State Fair in the Normandy Barn last August.
Kimmi Devaney heads up the program. She enjoys showcasing the efforts of producers who take the time to complete the certification. Honoring them in ceremonies like those at the state fair last year lets others know that it’s an important accomplishment.
Worth the effort
Why is the Certified Livestock Producer Program important? We see it as extra steps producers can take to show their neighbors and others that they take producing livestock seriously. In an age when groups like the Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals would like to see livestock agriculture disappear, being able to demonstrate that you have completed a rigorous training program sends a positive message to those who live around you. And after all, your neighbors are the ones who count the most.
The voluntary program consists of five parts. Some parts involve self-assessment of the practices on your farm. Some involve asking experts in the field to visit and discuss your practices with you, Devaney notes.
The sections include showing commitment to the environment, animal well-being, emergency planning, biosecurity and being a good neighbor.
Those who have completed the program, like Doug Abney, Bargersville, say it’s more than just a repetitive exercise. It’s a chance to see your operation in a whole new light, and to consider practices that you may not have thought about before.
For example, to complete the emergency planning section, the producer develops an emergency plan for his or her farm. Odds are not everyone producing livestock has one. But it’s just common sense that they should have a plan. As part of the process, a representative from the local fire department visits and goes over the plan with you.
You will be doing your part to enhance agriculture’s image and helping yourself at the same time.