ANTH 469A | ENVIR 495F

Ecology, Economy, and Politics of Resource-Extraction Ecosystems

Spring Quarter 2014
Tuesdays and Thursdays 9:30-10:50, MEB 235
Field trips Saturdays April 19, May 3, and May 31

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Readings for Week 9: Dairies in Washington

Tuesday, May 27

The first thing we will do today is go over the paper assignment for the dairy unit.

We will then look at dairy farming issues from a local perspective: Washington State in general and Whatcom County in particular. To inform our conversation, in addition to pulling in relevant material from last week's readings, you should consider the following sources:
  • For an overview of the agricultural region we will be visiting, look at the Whatcom Farm Friends site. Pay particular attention to how the organization approaches the public, and also to how they show their concern with environmental issues.
  • For a more general overview of dairy farming in Washington State as a whole (including the Yakima Valley that you may remember from that now-distant day in mid-April) please see what I would characterize as the more overtly propagandistic Dairy Farmers of Washington site.
  • For a view of the most important (some would say monopolistic) cooperative in Washington, visit the site of Darigold, and for a different cooperative, see the site of Organic Valley.
  • For producer-handler views, see websites from the small farms of Twin Brook Creamery, Jackie's Jersey Milk, and Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy, and also the biggest farm in the county, Edaleen Dairy, which has developed a website in the past year.
  • For the controversy over rBST or rBGH (same thing; I looked it up in multiple sources), I found the Wikipedia article fairly comprehensive and balanced, but you might also want to look at a very oppositional article from The Center for Food Safety. To get a general idea of this organization's position, you should have a quick look at its position on shellfish aquaculture.
Armed with all this web-based knowledge, you should post regarding your opinion on one or two of the following issues, by midnight on Monday, May 26.
  • Given the general issues with the environmental impact of milk production, how would you regulate production in Whatcom county to minimize negative environmental impacts?
  • Think about the comparative ecological impacts of dairies and other possible uses of the land, including development--be sure to look at the development rights section on the Farm Friends site.
  • What kinds of appeals do dairy organizations make to the public in order to make a stinky, messy form of resource production seem completely benign to the milk-drinking public? In this context, think of course of Melanie DuPuis's article that you read last week.
  • How do you think that dairies might effect the riverine and estuarine ecology, and potentially the shellfish industry, in coastal areas of Whatcom County?
Class Activities
In class, after we assign drivers and slide show creators for the field trip and have one more student presentation left over from last week and go over the paper assignment, we will discuss these issues.

Thursday, May 29

By midnight on Wednesday, May 28 please post at least two, and preferably more questions you would like to ask farmers. I will compile them into a list on Thursday morning and post it on the website; if we have time in class we can go over some of them, but it might be a good idea to print the list off and bring it along on the trip.

Our main activity for today will be a presentation on robotic milking by Kate Steensma, daughter of a Whatcom County dairy farm that we will visit, and a recently hired herd management specialist for the DeLaval company.