SENECA - Johnson’s One Stop employee and founding farmer of the Driftless Back to the Land Cooperative (DBLC) Mike Mueller met with other farmers interested in learning more about pastured pork production. The meeting took place on Thursday, Jan. 25, starting at 6:30 p.m.
About 25 interested producers attended the meeting where they heard presentations from Mueller and Crawford County UW-Extension Agriculture Agent Vance Haugen.
Mueller told the group that the cooperative was officially incorporated as of November 2017, and had established its production protocols. The protocols are modeled on the Global Animal Partnership (GAP) production standards. The standards have five steps, which are progressively more humane. Mueller reported that DBLC has chosen to proceed directly to the fourth and fifth levels of the standards, which are ‘Pasture Centered,’ and ‘Animal Centered – No Physical Alterations.’
“Consumers are increasingly demanding food alternatives that are produced according to a higher standard than that of the industrial food system - conventional or organic,” Mueller explained. “They want to know where their food comes from, how it was produced, and they want to make their food purchases from companies and brands they can trust.”
Mueller talked about the threat to the Driftless Area from what many view as an expansion of the industrial hog production industry into the area.
“Pasture-based production eliminates the danger from large lagoons of liquid manure,” Mueller said. “The people in our area are opposed to the industrial hog industry coming into our area, and so there is a lot of support out there for a viable alternative.”
Mueller reported that he is in conversations with a potential slaughtering partner, Premium Iowa Pork, that has purchased the facility between Viroqua and Westby previously owned by Driftless Meats. The company is reported to be interested in expansion into the premium pastured pork market.
“I’ll know more in the next several weeks,” Mueller told the group. “In the meantime, our cooperative needs to know for sure what kind of interest there is in the farming community to produce pastured pork, and what kind of volumes we can bring to market.”
Interested producers can contact Mueller at 608-412-0725 or email@example.com. The cooperative will hold its next member meeting on Friday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. in the Readstown Village Building, 116 N. 4th Street, Readstown, WI.