Sarah Wagler saw the benefits of participating in the certified livestock producer program when she completed an emergency plan for Wagler Farms. The program offered by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture highlights the work done by livestock producers.
Sarah Wagler saw the benefits of participating in the certified livestock producer program when she completed an emergency plan for Wagler Farms. The program offered by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture highlights the work done by livestock producers.
MORGANTOWN, Ind. — Sarah Wagler got excited when she found out she and her husband could participate in a program to become certified livestock producers.

“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 organization.

The program holds participants to high standards in environmental protection, animal care, biosecurity, emergency planning and community relations.

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 economic opportunities.

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.”

Wagler agreed.

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 property.

“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.