Recently The Lakeland Times and River News reported on what some in the town of Stella call a conflict of interest. During this past hunting season, some ag damage tags were give to Kyle McLaughlin, who works for the DNR and owns some land in Stella as Stella Farms, LLC. His father, Jim McLaughlin, farms the land on which the tags were used, as well as other land in the Town of Stella. Jim McLaughlin owns McLaughlin Family Farms. He started the business four years ago with a 40-acre plot and has since grown to 400 acres. He felt the previous story portrayed his business in a less than favorable light. In reality, the issue was the crop damage tags as well as what some viewed as unsafe hunts happening on the property. Neither of these things were connected to the business of McLaughlin Family Farms.
Neighbors of the Stella Farms, LLC properties questioned not only the crop damage tags but also were concerned there was some conflict of interest with the hunting on that land. The DNR administers the crop damage tags program. Neighbors said the conflict of interest they saw was that the tags were given by the DNR to a DNR employee. From there, the deer biologist for Oneida County came out to hunt on those tags. The main complaint was the conflict of interest and the fact that these DNR employees were allowed ag tags, which means they were allowed to harvest 10 does, in a county with a "buck only" restriction for the regular hunting season. Neighbors also cited what they felt were unsafe hunts on that same property. One person in particular called the farming operation there a "hobby farm."
"When I read in the newspaper that someone called my farm a hobby, I really took offense to that. I'm very resentful of that," McLaughlin said in a recent interview. "I work very hard - very hard - to raise this beef and get it out to market. It's not just a hobby. It has taken years, and I knew it would, but it has taken years to get the business in the black, and I am doing to right things to help people stay healthy. Our health is affected by what we eat. Look at the costs of health care. Look at all of the people who are sick and what the drug companies are making off of people. It's ridiculous. The system is broken." McLaughlin has invested not only his blood, sweat and time, but a good deal of money as well, to make his dream a reality. He raised grass-fed beef with antibiotics or hormones. He feeds them the alfalfa he grows in the town of Stella, with no pesticides or chemicals. While the business of farming is very enjoyable to him, he said he does work extremely hard.
He said he took offense to several things in the story and wanted to stress the point that the hunting on that land, no matter who was doing it, was all on the up and up and that the issues described were simply a gripe from one neighbor about another. The issue in the previous story, he said was a DNR issue, and should have had nothing to do with his farm or his farming practices. Any issues regarding that hunting, he said, had nothing to do with his business. He does not hunt, and resented the fact that he felt his business was made to look as if it was involved in any way and was portrayed in a bad light.
McLaughlin has worked very hard to build his business and felt the story did not distinguish between the land owner, his son Kyle McLaughlin, and Jim McLaughlin's business, McLaughlin Family Farms. In all, however, McLaughlin wanted people to know that his farm is not only his business, but one that he is very passionate about because he is passionate about helping people.
"I don't have that many more years on this round planet, and I'm going to do it right," he said. "And it's enjoyable. If you have a bad day, go out and scratch a cow. It makes you feel pretty good."
Posted: Thursday, March 2, 2017
Article comment by:
Very happy to see that this article was published to help right things.
I too farm, and I know Jim through doing that. And he is right... When one invests that much time, blood, sweat, tears, and money into an operation, it is NOT a "hobby farm". When I first read that, I found that not offensive,(everyone is offended now-a-days) but ignorant to the facts. It angered me because I know what it takes.
A hobby farm is a place that has a few horses, cattle, chickens, etc. And generally they do not invest tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, into equipment, livestock, fertilizer, seed, and time. Doing it organically like Jim does is even more expensive!
Just the equipment alone is extremely expensive, not only to purchase, but also to maintain and repair. In my own operation, I could have a lot less headache and stress if I sold everything... not to mention a nice chunk of change to do true "hobby" things.
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