Secretary of Agriculture Becky Skillman's answer in Indiana to the hub-bub caused by such groups as the Humane Society of the United State and others a couple of years ago was to begin a voluntary certification program for livestock producers. It's operated by the Indiana State Department of Agriculture, and is basically a voluntary training program to help producers review the most modern practices and procedures they can follow in humanely dealing with livestock in modern operations.
Joe Kelsay, the current ISDA director, and his family were amongst the first to complete the program. Kelsay. His brother Russ, and father, Merrill, operate Kelsay and Sons Dairy along Interstate 65 north of Whiteland. Ready to promote the farm to the public in even more ways, Joe's wife, Amy, is in charge of an education and agritourism program that both brings in money for the operation, but which also spreads a goodwill message about the farm to consumers. Visitors get to see various parts of the farm, including the milking parlor and feeding area. Their efforts consist primarily of school tours except for every weekend in October, when they host a mini- ag festival on the farm each weekend.
The beauty of the certification program sponsors say is that a producer can begin and complete it whenever they choose. There are no deadlines to meet. More than two dozen farmers have earned and been awarded a certificate since the program began.
ISDA is making it easier for producers to participate by holding free, voluntary training sessions across the state. Each session focuses on commitment to the environment, animal well-being, food safety, emergency [planning, biosecurity and the value of being a good neighbor in your community.
Remaining sessions to be held include: Feb 8 and 9, Greensburg, 5-8:30 EST pm both days; Feb 14, Wabash County REMC, 8:30 am -3:30 pm., and Feb 22, Jay County, 8:30 A.M. to 3:30 p.m.