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Cookson Beecher

Cookson Beecher

A journalist by trade, Cookson Beecher spent the past 12 years working as an agricultural & environmental reporter for Capital Press, a four-state newspaper that covers agricultural and forestry issues in the Pacific Northwest. Before working at Capital Press, she was the editor of a small-town newspaper, the Courier Times, in Skagit County, Wash. She received her B.A. in political science from Hunter College in New York City, and before moving West, she worked for publishing companies in mid-town Manhattan. In the 1970s and 80s, she and her family lived in North Idaho, where they built a log home and lived a “pioneer life” without running water and electricity for almost ten years. She currently lives in rural Skagit County of Washington State.

Articles Written by Cookson Beecher

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Managing ‘Black Gold': Animal Manure and Antibiotic Resistance

Compost turner used for windrow churning. To avoid across contamination, compost turner was thoroughly washed by farm workers in between study treatments.

Many farmers refer to manure as “black gold” and rightly so because it adds nutrients to the soil, which helps crops grow and be more productive. In earlier times, before the advent of synthetic fertilizers, crop farmers would often buy a cow solely for the manure it would produce and use the manure for fertilizer…. Continue Reading

Learning to ‘Bridge the GAPs’ for Small and Mid-Sized Farms


Waging a successful battle against the foodborne pathogens that can sicken people — or even kill them — takes some creative strategizing on the part of small- and mid-size farms, primarily because they’re so different from large farms and even from one another. With that in mind, about 25 people took advantage of the invitation to come to… Continue Reading

U.S. Apple Industry Gears Up to Comply With FDA’s FSMA Rules

Apple orchard

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” is more than a well-known saying — it’s also what many people believe to be time-tested truth. And the tradition of giving an apple to a teacher on the first day of school also says something about the apple’s solid reputation for being healthy and tasty. In the… Continue Reading

Fair Lesson: Spread Soap and Water, Not E. Coli Infection


There was a lot of hand-washing going on during the Northwest Washington Fair last week in Lynden, WA. Yes, there were the usual farm exhibits, carnival rides, food booths, music, talent shows, and much more. But the 24 hand-washing stations placed around the animal barns, along with a team of specially trained “Hand-Washing Ambassadors,” underscored the… Continue Reading

Before Roasting a Pig, the Pros Advise Food Safety Homework


While summer often conjures up mouth-watering thoughts of pig roasts, if you’re actually contemplating tackling this culinary feat, some homework is in order. And that includes some homework about food safety. You certainly don’t want to sicken your guests, which can be avoided if you play it safe. When you roast a whole pig, your first… Continue Reading

Human Milk-Sharing Networks Reflect a Growing Movement

Nese Devenot and her son Ellis

There’s nothing new about the sharing of human breast milk. In earlier days, moms in tribal groups nursed babies other than their own when the baby’s mother died or wasn’t close by. Later, wet nurses — mothers who had enough milk to share — came onto the scene. Sometimes they lived with the family; other… Continue Reading

‘Surprising’ Discovery Made About Chronic Wasting Disease

New study shows that prions can bind to plants

Elk with CWD

An infectious brain disease that has been killing deer, elk and moose both in the wild and on “captive farms” continues to stalk the land, expanding its domain to 23 states and two Canadian provinces since it was first identified in captive mule deer in a Colorado research facility in 1967. Known as chronic wasting disease,… Continue Reading

West Virginia Governor Vetoes Raw Milk Herdshare Bill

Supporters plan to try again next session


Bucking the headwinds of an 81-19 vote in the West Virginia House of Delegates (18-16 in the Senate) for legislation that would have allowed dairy farmers to provide raw milk through herdshare arrangements, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the bill on Thursday. Raw milk is milk that hasn’t been pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria that might… Continue Reading

Note to Small Farms: Keep Food Safety Front and Center When Donating or Selling to Food Banks



As you read this, please keep in mind that back in the 1970s and 80s, my family — ma, pa, and the kids — had a 20-acre place in northern Idaho. We raised sheep, goats, chickens and rabbits, and put in an orchard, several acres of hay, and a huge garden. We believed that the… Continue Reading

California Consumers are About to Get a Taste of ‘a2 Milk’


“The milk that might change everything.” That’s the bold claim of a brand that will soon be sold as “a2 Milk” here in the United States. An April launch, complete with a robust amount of advertising and in-store demos, is slated for California retail outlets from Safeway and Krogers to Whole Foods. The a2 Milk… Continue Reading