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Sound-friendly farming
Wilcox: Earth-friendly practices work for egg producer

“Harts Lake When you get right down to it, Jim Wilcox says, he doesnt really know whether the 600,000 chickens his family keeps in cages are any less happy than the 100,000 that get to go outside every day and stretch their wings in open courtyards…

What Wilcox does know is that more and more U.S. shoppers believe eggs from free-range, organic birds are healthier. And he knows that when they see the words free-range and organic on a carton of eggs, they will pay a dollar or two more per dozen.

That goes a long way toward explaining why Wilcox Family Farms, the giant Pierce County egg producer celebrating its 100th anniversary this week, finds itself on the cusp of a revolution in corporate food production and the darling of environmentalists trying to save Puget Sound.

Scientists say the Puget Sound ecosystem is nearing collapse, battered by pollution and loss of habitat. Agriculture is by no means the main culprit, but in certain critical areas, primarily along rivers and at their deltas, farmers face heavy pressure to change practices ecologists say contribute to the death spiral.

Environmentalists and government regulators are doing their best to convince farmers that sustainable agriculture and a healthy Puget Sound can make good economic sense.

The Wilcoxes have become Exhibit A in that effort.

Not only has Wilcox Farms lately become nicer to its birds, but it also has moved a herd of 2,500 Holstein cattle off its mile-long stretch of Nisqually riverbank and planted hundreds of trees in order to shade salmon-bearing creeks. Wastes the cows produced overwhelmed the capacity of vegetation on the riverbank to absorb nutrients, and temperatures in unprotected streams was too high for salmon,” quoting The Olympian.


Posted by Steve on August 13, 2009 at 5:44 am | Permalink

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