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ARC of Delaware County: Delayed 2 HrsAcademy at Rensselaer Education Ctr: Delayed 2 HrsAcademy of the Holy Names: ClosedAchievements & Kids Express Mplwood: Delayed 2 Hrs, no before careAchievements St Kateri Tekakwitha: Delayed 2 HrsAchievements and Kids Express TBGC: Delayed 2 HrsAdams-Cheshire Regional SD: ClosedAesthetic Science Institute: Delayed 2 Hrs, Classes will begin at 11 amAlbany Law School: Delayed 2 Hrs, All classes starting before 11 am are cancelled Staff report at 10:30 amAlbany Leadership Charter High: Delayed 2 HrsAlbany Pine Bush Discovery Center: Delayed 1 Hr, No AM Pre-K, Classes will still run, The Discovery Center will open at 10 am to the public. Morning classes scheduled to start at 10 will still start at 10.Albany Public Library: Delayed, No Morning Classes, All locations open at noonAmbleside School: Delayed 2 Hrs, All School Luncheon remains on scheduleAmsterdam City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastAmsterdam Head Start: Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff ReportAn Nur Islamic School: Delayed 2 Hrs, Building opens at 8:30.Andes CSD: Delayed 3 HrsArkville Head Start: ClosedArlington SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, Delay 2 Hours ALL JISP CANCELLEDAugustine Classical Academy: ClosedAverill Park CSD: ClosedAverill Park Pre School: Closed, No AM Program, No Morning ClassesBArT Charter Public School: Closed, Full-year staff reportBallston Spa CSD: Delayed 2 HrsBattenkill Community Services: ClosedBennington College: Delayed Until 10a, Essential staff report as normalBennington County Head Start: ClosedBennington Early Childhood Ctr: ClosedBerkshire Christian School (Lenox): ClosedBerkshire Community College: ClosedBerkshire Country Day School: ClosedBerkshire County Head Start@Conte: Closed, No AM Head StartBerkshire Hills Regional SD: Delayed 2 HrsBerlin CSD: ClosedBerne-Knox-Westerlo CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastBethlehem CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESBishop Maginn HS: ClosedBlessed Sacrament School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No After-School Programs, No After School Events, Regular DismissalBoght Montessori: Delayed 2 HrsBrighter Choice Charter Schools: ClosedBrite Beginnings Day Care & Dev Ctr: Delayed 2 HrsBrown School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Morning PLUS ProgramBrunswick (Brittonkill) CSD: Closed, Updated statusBrunswick Center Services: Open, Buses on Snow RoutesBrunswick Children's Academy: ClosedBrunswick Community Library: ClosedBurnt Hills-Ballston Lake CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, 2-hr delay (Final) HS students check email for exam scheduleBurr & Burton Academy: Delayed 2 HrsButterfly Dreams Daycare: Delayed 2 Hrs, Daycare will open at 9;30amCEO Head Start (Rensselaer County): Delayed, All CEO programs and sites delayed until 10:00amCOARC Adult Transportation: Open, Staff Rpt, No TransCairo-Durham CSD: Closed, Offices ClosedCambridge CSD: Delayed 2 HrsCap Dist Ctr for Indp (Albany): ClosedCap Dist Ctr for Indp (Schenectady): ClosedCapital Milestones Child Care: Delayed 2 HrsCapital Reg Career & Tech (Albany): Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, No AM BOCES, No AM classesCatholic Central HS: ClosedCatholic Schools Office: Delayed 2 Hrs, Principals Meeting at 10:30Catskill CSD: ClosedCentral Berkshire Regional SD: ClosedChatham CSD: Closed, Pops Concert Pstpnd to 1-18Chatham Kids Club: ClosedChildhood Friends Inc.: Delayed 2 Hrs, We will open at 9amChrist the King Church: Closed, No morning Daily Mass. Parish Office opens at 11 a.m.Christ the King Early Childhood Ctr: Delayed 2 HrsChristian Brothers Academy: ClosedCircle Of Friends (Delmar): Delayed 2 Hrs, Wrap around two hour delayCircle of Friends (Ravena): ClosedClifton Park Nursery School: Delayed 1 HrCobleskill-Richmondville CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCESCohoes City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM K, No AM BOCES, No Breakfast, CDTA buses running on Delay schedule - 9:30 amCohoes Community Center, Inc.: Delayed Until 9a, /Day Care delayed until 9am /No AM care at elem schoolsColonie Youth Centers: Open, No AM ProgramColumbia Christian Academy: ClosedColumbia Co Nutrition Pg (Philmont): Closed, Staff ReportColumbia-Greene Comm College: Delayed, No Day Classes, The College will open at 4:00 pm.Columbia-Greene FCU: ClosedCommunity Access to the Arts: ClosedCongregation Gates of Heaven: Open, Senior Moments Cancelled Rescheduled for Jan. 24Corinth CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESCoxsackie-Athens CSD: ClosedCrossFit Schenectady: Delayed, No morning classesCrossroads Center for Children: Delayed 2 HrsDiscovery Place Learning Center: ClosedDoane Stuart School: Closed, NO Snow CampDoors of Hope: ClosedDuanesburg CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESDutchess Community College: Delayed Until 5p, No Day Classes, Opening at 5 pm for evening classes. Student Services offices open 5 - 7 pm.EOC (Capital District): Delayed 2 Hrs, School closed until 10 a.m. staff/sudents report at 10Early Childhood Learning Ctr: ClosedEarly Childhood Education Center: Delayed 2 HrsEarly Childhood Education Ctr-Troy: ClosedEast Greenbush CSD: ClosedEast Greenbush Community Library: Delayed Until 11a, Storytimes cancelledEco Baby Daycare & Preschool: Delayed Until 9aEddy Senior Care: Open, Schenectady Center is open Buses may be lateEmma L. Miller Memorial School: ClosedEmma Willard School: Delayed 2 HrsExcelsior College: Delayed 1 HrFarmington River Regional SD: ClosedFirst Friends Nursery School: Delayed, No AM Program, Enrichment program begins at 11:30amGabriel Abbott Memorial School: ClosedGalway CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastGateway Community Industries: Open, No Transportation, GCI open,trans cancelled SNP meals/cong.sites cancel PROS cancelled,Staff report, GCI is open but transportation is cancelled. Staff report., The Ulster County Office of the aging home delivered meals service and congregated sites are cancelled for today. , PROS is cancelled. Staff report. , George Washington School: ClosedGermantown CSD: Closed, Office staff report at noonGood Ground Christian School: Delayed 2 Hrs, Opening at 9:30Grace Chapel of Clifton Park: Open, All groups cancelled.Grace Christian School: ClosedGrand Gorge Head Start: ClosedGrapeville Christian School: ClosedGreen Island UFSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Breakfast, School opens at 9:40Green Tech High Charter School: Delayed 2 HrsGreenbush Child Caring: ClosedGreene County Nutrition Program: Closed, No TransportationGreene County Transit: Closed, No Transportation, all buses cancelledGreenville CSD: ClosedGreenwich CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESGrowing Up Right at the C.D.C.: ClosedGuilderland CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESHVCC: Delayed 2 Hrs, School closed until 10 am. staff and students report at 10 amHancock Regional SD: ClosedHappy Kids Day Care Center: ClosedHawthorne Valley School: ClosedHead Start - Adams: Closed, No AM Head StartHead Start - Lee: Delayed 2 Hrs, No TransHead Start @ Becket/Washington: Closed, No AM Head StartHead Start @ Johnson - North Adams: Open, No AM Head Start, No Transportation, Childcare OpenHead Start @ Meadow Lane Pittsfield: Open, No AM Head Start, No Transportation, Childcare OpenHead Start @ Muddy Brook - GB: Open, No AM Head Start, No Transportation, Childcare OpenHebrew Academy - Capital District: Delayed 2 HrsHelderberg Christian School: ClosedHelping Hands Pre-School: Delayed, No AM Pre-SchoolHenry Johnson Charter School: Open, No Aft-Sch PgmHoly Spirit School (East G'Bush): ClosedHoosic Valley CSD: Delayed 2 HrsHoosick Falls CSD: ClosedHope 7 Community Center: Open, for after school, Food Pantry Open 9:30-11:45aHopeClub: Delayed 3 Hrs, No Morning Classes, Opening at noon, Opens at noon. Housatonic Academy: ClosedHudson City SD: Closed, Offices now cosed Board Meeting as scheduledHudson Day Care Center: ClosedHunter-Tannersville CSD: Closed, No AM BOCESIchabod Crane (Kinderhook) CSD: ClosedJefferson CSD: Delayed 2 HrsJohn Paolo's-Ballston Spa: ClosedJubilee Child Day Care Center: ClosedKIPP: Tech Valley Charter School: Closed, Both the primary and middleKid Kampus: Delayed 2 Hrs, Opening at 8:30AMKiddie Academy II: Delayed 2 HrsKiddie Academy of Albany: Delayed 2 HrsKidsFirst Childcare Center: Delayed 2 HrsKinderhof Waldorf School: ClosedKinderhook Memorial Library: Delayed 2 Hrs, Library will open at noon.Kingston City SD: ClosedLa Salle Institute (Troy): ClosedLanesborough Regional SD: ClosedLansingburgh CSD: ClosedLatham Christian Academy: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM KLee Public Schools: Delayed 2 HrsLenox Public Schools: Delayed 2 HrsLife Kids Before/ After School: Open, No AM ProgramLifeSong Inc (Saratoga): Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff ReportLifeSong Inc (Schenectady): Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff ReportLifeSong Inc. (Albany): Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff ReportLifeSong Inc. (Rensselaer): Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff ReportLil Peeps Preschool: Open, 10am-2pm No TransportationLil' Lambs Christian Daycare Inc.: Delayed 2 HrsLittle Feet Daycare Center: ClosedLittle Tot Nursery School: ClosedLiving Res DCOP (Albany): Delayed 1 HrLiving Res DCOP (Rensselaer): Delayed 1 HrLiving Res DCOP (Saratoga): Delayed 1 HrLiving Res DCOP (Schenectady): Delayed 1 HrLiving Resources DCOP (Columbia): Delayed 1 HrLong Trail School: Delayed 2 HrsLoudonville Christian School: Delayed 2 HrsMacedonia Baptist Church (Albany): Closed, No Adult Education, Bible Study is CanceledMalta Montessori School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No toddler programMargaretville CSD: Delayed 3 HrsMass. College of Liberal Arts: Delayed Until 10aMechanicville City SD: Delayed 2 HrsMekeel Christian Academy: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-SchoolMenands UFSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastMetropolitan NTM Baptist Church: Closed, All activities cancelled.Mid-America Baptist Seminary: Delayed 2 HrsMiddleburgh CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No Breakfast, One Hour Early DismissalMilford CSD: Delayed 2 HrsMillbrook CSD: ClosedMohawk Trail Regional SD: ClosedMohonasen CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESMontessori School (Schenectady): Delayed, No AM Program, Early care open at 11.Morning Star Baptist Church: Closed, 6pm Bible Study is cancelledMother Teresa Academy: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pgm, No morning care Doors open at 9:45Mount Greylock Regional SD: ClosedMountain Road School: ClosedMrs. Puddle Duck's Childcare: Delayed 2 Hrs, Opening at 9:00 amMt Moriah Academy: ClosedMyers Education Center: Delayed 2 HrsN. Greenbush Little Red School: ClosedNassau Free Library: Delayed Until 2p, No AM Pgm, No Morning Classes, No Story TimeNew Lebanon CSD: ClosedNew Paltz CSD: ClosedNewmeadow at Clifton Park: Delayed 2 HrsNewmeadow at Fort Edward: Open, Upstate Trans delayed 2 hrsNiskayuna CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESNorth Adams Public Schools: ClosedNorth Colonie CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, Check website/email for SHS exam scheduleNortheast Parent & Child Society: Open, Staff Rpt, No TransNortheastern Baptist College: ClosedNorthern Berkshire Voc SD: Closed, No After Sch EventsNotre Dame-Bishop Gibbons: Delayed 2 HrsOak Hill School: Delayed 2 HrsOakwood Christian School: Delayed 2 HrsOhav Shalom Nursery School: Delayed, No AM Pre-School, No AM Program, opening at 9:30 all staff report at 9:00One Love Preschool: Delayed 2 HrsOnteora CSD: ClosedOrlo School of Hair Design: ClosedOtego-Unadilla CSD: Delayed 2 HrsOur Lady of Victory Early Childhood: ClosedOur Savior's Lutheran School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM K, No AM Pre-School, No LaunchpadOur World Montessori: Delayed 2 Hrs, Open at 10:45 a.m.Parsons Early Head Start Day Care: Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff report by 9Parsons Early Learning Center: Delayed 2 Hrs, Staff in by 9Pine Cobble School: Delayed 2 HrsPine Plains CSD: ClosedPineview Comm Church Pre-School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Breakfast, opening at 9:30Pittsfield Public Schools: ClosedPoughkeepsie City School District: ClosedPumpkin Patch (Albany): Delayed 2 HrsQuestar III BOCES - Sarah's Sisters: Delayed 2 HrsQuestar III Catskill Academy: ClosedQuestar III Columbia-Green Ed Ctr: Closed, New Visions open house will be rescheduled to tomorrow night, Thursday, 1/18.Questar III Rensselaer Academy: Delayed 2 HrsQuestar III Rensselaer Edu Ctr: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, Q3 New Vision is closedQuestar III Sackett Educational Ctr: ClosedRavena-Coeymans-Selkirk CSD: ClosedReadsboro Central School: Delayed 2 HrsRed Hook CSD: ClosedRedemption Christian Academy: Delayed 2 HrsRensselaer City SD: Delayed 2 HrsRensselaer Public Library: Delayed 1 HrRhinebeck CSD: ClosedRichmond Consolidated: Delayed 2 HrsRiverRun Community Montessori: ClosedRiverside Enterprises: Open, Buses on Snow RoutesRobert C. Parker School: ClosedRoeliff Jansen Community Library: ClosedRoots and Wings Montessori: Delayed 1-1/2 Hrs, Open at 9am no before careRosa Venerini Early Childhood Cente: Delayed 2 Hrs, Before Care Cancelled Doors Open at 9Roxbury CSD: Delayed 2 HrsSUNY New Paltz: Delayed 3 Hrs, Offices will open at 10:45, Offices will open at 10:45 a.m.SW Vermont Career Dev Ctr: ClosedSacred Heart School (Bennington): ClosedSacred Heart School (Troy): Closed, TSL is opens at 2pmSage Colleges (Troy & Albany): Delayed 2 Hrs, Classes begin at 11 amSaratoga Central Catholic HS: Delayed 2 HrsSaratoga County Senior Meals: ClosedSaratoga Independent School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Before Care or AM Pre-KSaratoga Springs City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESSaugerties CSD: ClosedSchalmont CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastSchenectady City SD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCESSchenectady County ARC: Open, Buses on Snow RoutesSchenectady InnerCtyMin Food Pantry: Closed, Staff Report, Food Pantry is closed. Will reopen Thurs, Jan 18.Schenectady Jewish CC: Delayed, Early Childhood Education will open at 8:30 amSchenevus CSD: ClosedSchodack CSD: ClosedSchoharie CSD: Delayed 2 HrsSchoharie Career and Technical Scho: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCESSchoharie County Com. Action Prg.: Delayed 2 Hrs, Opening at 10:00 AM.Schoharie Cty Child Dvp Cobleskill: Delayed 2 HrsSchoharie Cty HeadStart (Schoharie): Delayed 2 HrsSchool's Out, Inc.: Closed, No AM ProgramSchools Out Childrens Center LLC: Open, 6am - 2pm no transportationSchuylerville CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastScotia-Glenville CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastShaftsbury Early Childhood Center: Open, 10am-2pm No TransportationSharon Springs CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES, No BreakfastShenendehowa CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM K, No AM BOCESShooting Stars Nursery & After Sch.: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-SchoolSkidmore Early Childhood Center: Delayed, No AM Pre-SchoolSmall World Nursery School: ClosedSouth Colonie CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCESSouthern Berkshire Regional SD: Closed, No Aft-Sch Pgm, No PM Activities, No After School EventsSouthern Vermont College: ClosedSouthwest Vermont SU: ClosedSpa Christian School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM K, No AM Pre-SchoolSpotted Zebra Learning Center: Delayed 2 HrsSt Ambrose School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM PgmSt Catherine's May School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastSt Clement's Regional Catholic Sch: Delayed 2 HrsSt Edward's Church: Closed, No 9am Mass No daytime eventsSt George's School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-School, AEP begins at 11:30 amSt Gregory School: Closed, Classes CancelledSt Jude the Apostle School: ClosedSt Kateri Tekakwitha School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No Breakfast, No Before Care. School doors open at 10:00 am.St Madeleine Sophie Pre-School: Delayed 2 HrsSt Madeleine Sophie School: Delayed 2 HrsSt Mary's Academy (Hoosick Falls): ClosedSt Mary's Institute ES (Amsterdam): Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No BreakfastSt Mary's School (Ballston Spa): Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-School, Before Care Opens at 8:00amSt Mary's School (Waterford): Closed, No AM Pre-KSt Pius X School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KSt Stephen's Pre-K Acad (Delmar): Closed, No AM Pre-K, No AM Pre-K; Enrichments still on in the afternoonSt Thomas the Apostle School: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-KStepping Stone Pre & DCC (Albany): Delayed 2 Hrs, Open at 9:00Stillwater CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, FinalStory Place Preschool: ClosedStorybook Academy: ClosedSullivan BOCES: Closed, All facilities are closedSunnyside Center Day Care: Delayed 2 Hrs, Day Care open at 9am. All staff report at 9am.Sunshine Kids Corner: Delayed 2 Hrs, Opening at 9 amSusan Odell Taylor School: Delayed 2 HrsTLC Christian Day Care: ClosedTaconic Hills CSD: ClosedTech Valley High School: Delayed 2 HrsThe Albany Academies (AA & AAG): Closed, Check web later for athleticsThe Beagle School: Delayed, No AM Program, PM Class OpenThe Children's Museum at Saratoga: Delayed 2 HrsThe Kid's Place Preschool: ClosedThe King's School: ClosedTiny Tots Early Learning Center: ClosedTown of Ballston Community Library: Delayed 2 Hrs, Library will open at 12pm; Morning programs canceledTri-Village Nursery School: ClosedTroy City SD: Delayed 2 HrsTroy Prep: Delayed 2 HrsTroy Public Library: Delayed 3 Hrs, The library will open at 12:00 pm today. Twin County Recovery Services, Inc.: Closed, No groups or appointmentsTwin Valley Elementary School: Delayed 2 HrsTwin Valley Middle High School: Delayed 2 HrsUlster County Community College: Delayed 2 Hrs, Employee code orangeUlster-Greene ARC (Catskill): Open, No Transportation, transportation cancelledUlster-Greene ARC (Kingston): Open, No Transportation, All Classes Cancelled, Kingston Transportation Cancelled Training Center Cancelled, Kingston Transportation Canceled., Rosendale Training Center classes Cancelled. , , Unity Sunshine Program: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pgm, Day Care Open, Special Ed delayed 2 hours. UPK delayed 2 hours. at A Child's PlaceUpstate Transit: Delayed 2 Hrs, School DivisionVillage Of Colonie Senior Center: ClosedVillage School of North Bennington: ClosedVoorheesville CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM BOCES No BreakfastWWAARC—Albany & Queensbury: Open, Albany Location on Snow Routes; Queensbury Location normal routineWaldorf School (Saratoga Springs): Delayed 2 Hrs, 2 Day PreK begins at 10:30Warren Street Academy - The Bridge: ClosedWarrensburg CSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-K, No AM BOCES, No AM Head Start, No BrkfstWashington County EOC: Open, Cambridge HeadStart delayed 2 hours, No AM transportWaterford-Halfmoon UFSD: Delayed 2 Hrs, No BreakfastWatervliet City SD: Delayed 2 HrsWhispering Pines (Cobleskill): Delayed 2 HrsWhispering Pines - Schoharie UPK: Delayed 2 HrsWhispering Pines Pre Sc (Amsterdam): Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-School, No morning Toddler Program No morning wrap aroundWhispering Pines Pre-sch (Delanson): Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM Pre-School, No Toddler ProgramWildwood Adult Day Services: ClosedWilliamstown Public Schools: ClosedWilton Baptist Academy: Delayed 2 Hrs, No AM KWindham-Ashland-Jewett CSD: ClosedWonderland Nursery School: ClosedWoodland Hill Montessori School: ClosedWorcester CSD: ClosedWynantskill UFSD: ClosedYMCA (Bethlehem): Open, No Morning ClassesYMCA (East Greenbush): Open, No Morning Classes, Or programs, Child watch Opens at 9am, Snow Day Program opens at 8amYMCA (Greater Glenville): Open, No programs until noon. No AM Childwatch.YMCA (Guilderland): Open, No AM Pre-School, No Morning Classes, No AM branch childwatchYMCA (Schenectady): Open, No Morning Classes, Child Watch Closed for AM Classes Cancelled til NoonYMCA (Troy): Open, No Morning Classes, Or programs, No Child WatchYMCA Duanesburg: Open, No Morning Classes, No morning child watchYMCA Greene County Branch: Open, No Morning ClassesYMCA Southern Saratoga: Open, No Morning Classes

Program assures welfare of farm animals

Program assures welfare of farm animals

Internet sales are up at the Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow, and co-owner Carol Clement believ

Internet sales are up at the Heather Ridge Farm in Preston Hollow, and co-owner Carol Clement believes it’s due in part to the Animal Welfare Approved label the farm earned.

The certification is important for customers concerned with how well animals are treated on the farm. Clement said many of the farm’s local customers stop by and see how animals are treated for themselves — an option unavailable to those making a purchase over the Internet.

But when customers see the AWA label on the farm’s website, they know the farm has undergone a rigorous inspection by third-party auditors, who make sure the animals are being treated as humanely as possible.

“When they see our farm is AWA approved, they’re more likely to order from us than the farm that’s not,” said Clement, who, with her partner, John Harrison, raises cows, lamb, pigs, goats, chickens and turkeys.

“There are a lot of people who are making choices on their food based on their own philosophy. This Animal Welfare Approved certification is very thorough, from the moment the animal is born to the moment that the animal is harvested,” Clement said.

Clement’s is one of three local farms with AWA certification.

The program began in 2006 with the goal of improving the lives of farm animals. It’s a division of the Washington-based Animal Welfare Institute, a nonprofit group created in 1951 to help reduce animal suffering in laboratories, at homes, in commerce, on farms and in the wild.

With its Animal Welfare Approved program, the institute seeks to promote a form of agriculture called “high welfare farming,” which takes the needs of animals into account first, according to its website, www.awionline.org.

The group is working to improve conditions for the 9 billion animals raised and slaughtered for U.S. consumers each year. On so-called “factory farms” and in commercial feedlots, cattle may be administered drugs to promote rapid growth. Chickens might be housed in cramped enclosures, unable to stretch their wings, perch, forage for food or take a dust bath as they would in their natural environment.

The institute also wants to stop the practice of isolating pig sows in small crates, and keeping animals indoors instead of in fields or pastures.

Increased industrialization of milk production, according to the institute, has led to cows being denied access to pastures — their natural setting — and being injected with chemicals to boost production. Bull calves may be confined to small crates, unable to walk around and fed only liquid to produce “milk-fed” veal.

The AWA program certifies that all animals have access to appropriate feed, fresh air and clean water while living in an environment free of stress.

Canajoharie farmer Magda Heydenrych, who raises about 65 beef cattle on the family farm with her husband, Andre, said she can tell the difference between animals confined indoors and those that get to roam as they would naturally.

“You start seeing them play and run and do things that you don’t think that cows would do,” Heydenrych said. “You don’t imagine a cow running and just enjoying life. To me, that is the difference. When you see their personalities, you see how the herd interacts. And you just learn a lot more from them being outside to see what they normally would be like in nature.”

When the Heydenrych farm achieved its AWA certification, Heydenrych said she had a way to allay some of the concerns customers had about animal conditions.

“We have so many people over the many years asking us how are your animals raised, how do they die, all those questions. We thought it would take a lot of those questions and concerns away if we had a third party that can verify our practices,” she said.

Heydenrych said she and her customers want to know where their food comes from.

“You feel better about it because you don’t subscribe to the factory farms and some of the horrible conditions that the animals live in,” she said.

The AWA program has certified 1,500 farms, representing more than 1 million acres, in the United States and Canada, program director Andrew Gunther said. It’s a free program, but it comes with specific requirements, including annual inspections. AWA standards are all available for review on the program’s website.

“The basic premise of all the standards is that animals must be able to behave naturally and be in a state of physical and psychological well-being,” according to the group’s website.

Only family farms are eligible, and animals must be pasture raised, Gunther said.

“I think cattle raised in pastures, raised on the range, they’re certainly healthier,” he said. Confined animals are more prone to feedlot diseases, hoof issues and a frequent need for antibiotics.

AWA animal management guidelines are based on promoting health as opposed to treating disease. Farmers must have a detailed health plan, addressing how they will avoid environmental, nutritional or physical stress, impacts to the environment including manure management, exclusion of predators and pests such as rats and mice, and animal disease.

AWA standards for chickens limit flocks to no more than 500 birds, and they have to be monitored to limit fighting, feather pecking and other negative activity. Chickens must have room to fly, run and stretch, and be able to take dust baths.

AWA has specific standards for most domesticated farm animals, including beef and dairy cattle, bison, goats, pigs, poultry, rabbits and sheep.

Members of the audit team, who inspect certified farms annually, are required to have a four-year degree as well as two years of practice in production, Gunther said.

The fact that AWA is a free program helps ensure its validity, he said.

“What’s really important about third-party certification is if you have no incentive, no reason to approve somebody,” Gunther said.

Besides inspectors, AWA has a marketing team, which helps approved farmers find markets for their goods.

John Garner and his father, Grover, achieved AWA certification at their Heather Hill Farm in Warnerville in February. John Garner said it wasn’t that difficult a process because they raise their Angus beef cattle outdoors anyway.

He said auditors found a couple of things they needed to comply with, such as fixing a fence and making sure there was no foreign debris — such as baler twine or wire — in the fields that could injure the cattle.

Inspectors checked the feed given to the cattle, another simple test because the Garners’ cattle eat mostly grasses and clover, plus a little corn.

“We didn’t feel as though we needed to feed any animal by-products or any hormones to our animals. Everything we’ve done is all by genetics with breeding,” John Garner said.

Garner said he also spends time with the cattle, which helps both with behavior and how they turn out on a plate.

“If those animals have interaction with us on a daily basis, they do a lot better. The more interaction they have with a human, the more mellow the animals are,” he said.

The animals’ demeanor is important, the farmers said, because stress and maltreatment lead to increases in adrenalin and other chemicals that can make the meat taste bad.

Raising cattle on pastures instead of keeping them indoors and trucking in commercially grown feed helps prevent deterioration of green space around the globe, Gunther said.

“I think it’s a way that we’re going to have to farm if we’re going to save the planet. We can’t keep cutting down rain forests to produce soy to feed to cattle for us to eat,” he said.

For farms without enough pasture land, participating in AWA might require spending some money, Heydenrych said.

“From the beginning we set it up so that they are out and they have access to pasture. But some are keeping animals in a barn. For them to then have 100 percent pasture actually could be a cost,” Heydenrych said.

Clement said some farms may not have the time or energy to pursue the AWA designation, but that doesn’t mean they mistreat their animals.

“There are plenty of farms that would qualify for this that just have no interest in it. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing something wrong,” Clement said. “It’s a lot of work to get this certification, it’s a lot of time to sit there with the auditor and go through the books, and another farm may not be interested. It doesn’t mean they’re bad farmers.”

Gunther echoed Clement’s sentiments.

“AWA is a voluntary program driven by consumers who are looking for third-party reassurance. Inherently, farmers are good people, so our program is not meant to criticize other farmers,” he said.

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