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Producing Excellence

Lisa and Brian Winner

New Weston, Ohio

Ross-Medford Farms

Products Raised or Grown: Laying hens and row crops

Size of Operation: 1.6 million hens

In Business Since: 1999

Farm Credit Partner: Farm Credit Mid-America

Working with Farm Credit Since: 1999

A few years ago, Ohio was the site of a ballot initiative campaign that would have dramatically impacted the state’s egg industry by instituting new rules about how farmers were allowed to house and raise laying hens. The state’s farmers decided to get actively involved in the discussion in an interesting way – by sharing stories of how they care for their animals as a way to educate both legislators and consumers. Their efforts were successful in demonstrating the best practices in use and the issue was resolved by creating a Livestock Care Standards Board in the State.

Mother Nature and price fluctuations are a way of life for farmers. But when the issue of animal welfare and husbandry elbowed its way to the front of the line, we realized that today the number one challenge facing farmers was to tell our story so consumers - many of whom are two and three generations removed from the farm - really understand the production practices we use to ensure the safety of the food they enjoy, said Brian.

“Our farm uses a cage system inside of our barns to protect the hens from changing weather conditions,” said Brian. “The cages prevent the hens from piling on top of each other when thunderstorms move through, and ensure that every hen has access to feed and water without being pushed back by a larger group of hens. The system also ensures that eggs are found and gathered quickly, resulting in safe and fresh eggs to the consumer.”

While he is supportive of consumers who prefer food produced meeting specifications such as natural, organic, cage-free or grass-fed, Brian feels strongly about not restricting food choices that could drive up the overall cost of food or limit its availability.

“Americans have the right to continue to be able to eat as they wish. And it’s up to us to make sure that we provide safe and affordable food while providing the utmost care for our animals,” said Brian. “At the end of each day, the thing I enjoy most about raising laying hens is knowing I have produced something that will allow a child somewhere to have something to eat.”

Download a PDF version of this story here.