Doug Abney and his family, Bargersville, raise Belted Galloway cattle in Johnson County, in an area not yet filled with suburbs, but with an eventual target on its back.
Recently he completed the voluntary livestock certification program offered by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture.
The program consists of attending a day of classes, filling out paperwork, thinking about long term plans for manure control and other issues, visiting with your local fire department on "what if" scenarios, and much more. It also involves making changes if necessary, such as cleaning up manure stacks or positioning them in the right locations.
So why did Abney feel it was important to take the time to complete this program and get his certification? It all started when he went to a local planning and zoning meeting and watched interaction about an issue that didn't even involve agriculture.
"Those people were arguing and fighting over things that seemed like common sense," he says. "I realized that as more neighbors move in here someday, I could be the one drawn in to that situation if a neighbor complained about something I do on my farm.
"My thought was that I need to do all I can to demonstrate that I am following the best known practices, and am being a good neighbor. Getting certified in this program was one way I felt I could do that. As long as I keep up the plans and follow the recommendations, I can at least demonstrate that I am making a good faith effort to follow the latest practices set out for livestock producers in an effort to farm and still protect the environment."
Kimme Devaney oversees the voluntary certification program for ISDA. She says that Abney is the 106th producer to complete the program. While mostly large, confined feeding operations sought certification at first, now smaller operations of Abney's size or smaller are interested in the program.
For more information contact Devaney at 317-450-3570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.