MORGANTOWN, Ind. — Sarah Wagler got excited when she found
out she and her husband could participate in a program to become certified
“It was a way for us to further tell our story,” she said.
The program, offered by the Indiana State Department of
Agriculture, recognizes livestock producers that go “above and beyond in their
farm management practices,” said Kimmi Devaney, livestock program manager with
The program holds participants to high standards in
environmental protection, animal care, biosecurity, emergency planning and
David Hardin, a third-generation pork producer, was one of
the first to receive his certified livestock producer accreditation.
He has been involved with the program since its inception in
2008. The program was a way to reflect positively on producers and create
The program entails documenting a lot of things livestock
producers already are doing, but the general public might not realize they’re
doing, Hardin said.
For example, he said, producers are asked to document
environmental records and show that participants are good environmental stewards
and also show that they have safety plans.
“You can’t just do the bare minimum anymore,” he said. “The
program is promoting that and raising the bar as far as livestock producers in
the state of Indiana showing their neighbors the lengths they go to.”
The program is a good way for producers to look at their
practices and take something that is good and make it great, she said.
For Wagler, one of the most beneficial parts of the program
was creating an emergency plan. Local fire departments came out to Wagler Farms,
a dairy farm in Brown County, and walked through the buildings saying what could
be done to make it safer.
It was mutually beneficial, Wagler said.
The 600-cow operation now has a map with an aerial view of
the farm, as well as descriptions of what is in each building and a description
of where power sources are in each building. In the event an emergency ever
takes place, it will be safe for the responders, as well as the people on the
“For that alone, I would redo this program,” Wagler said.
To date, 93 producers have gone through the program, and 25
currently are going through the process, Devaney said.
She said she encourages livestock producers to participate
and show others they go above beyond for environment and animals. A lot of what
is needed for the program, such as an emergency plan, is good to have for farm
management, she said.
“Consumer confidence drives everything we do in livestock
industry,” she said. “Having plans in place and having an open communication
shows communities that producers are doing the right thing.”
The deadline to apply to the program is May 30. Those
interested should email Devaney at KDevaney@isda.in.gov.
Applications can be mailed to ISDA, Certified Livestock
Producer Program, One North Capitol, Suite 600, Indianapolis, IN 46204.