The HSUS Nebraska Agriculture Advisory Council
Local farmers, producers and other agriculture professionals join with The HSUS to foster better animal welfare and environmental stewardship
Meet the members of the HSUS Nebraska Agriculture Advisory Council, part of our emerging system of state agriculture councils.
Kevin Fulton grew up working on the family farm in Sherman County, Nebraska and helping in his father’s veterinary practice. He got his start in the livestock business at a very young age, first with pigs and chickens, then soon after with his first heifer at the age of 10. It was then that he started to develop a real passion for farming and raising livestock.
Today, Kevin operates Fulton Farms, a holistically managed organic grazing operation near Litchfield. This diversified livestock farm includes cattle, sheep, goats, poultry, pigs, and horses along with grain and hay enterprises. Around 2001, the farm started transitioning away from conventional farming practices in an effort to increase sustainability and improve the environment. Fulton Farms draws visitors and interns from around the world to experience it's unique approach to farming which has been featured in hundreds of publications along with several books and documentaries.
As an advocate for humane and sustainable agriculture, Kevin has presented at numerous events from New York City to Los Angeles, educating animal advocacy groups, university faculty, students and many livestock and ag organizations. Kevin is active in a number of organizations and has served on advisory boards for the Nebraska Sustainable Ag Society, the Center For Rural Affairs, and the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition. In 2014 Kevin and his children received the Farm Family of the Year Award from the Nebraska Sustainable Ag Society.
Dr. James Keen
Keen is a veterinarian and infectious disease ecologist-epidemiologist with 27 years of teaching, research and field experience in livestock health, food safety, veterinary public health and emerging and zoonotic infections. He is author of 69 peer-reviewed scientific publications. After enabling and supporting Big Ag livestock production for decades, Keen had a 2007 epiphany and converted to become a strong supporter of livestock protection. This culminated in his whistleblowing of abuse of research livestock at the USDA’s Meat Animal Research Center in Clay Center, NE in 2015. Keen strongly advocates improved welfare of both research and industrialized factory farm livestock.
Jim Knopik grew up on a farm near North Star, Nebraska, a village that no longer exists. In 1967, he married Carolyn and they rented their own farm, eventually becoming one of the larger conventional farmers in the area.
After twenty years, they realized they were farming more for large companies, and it wasn't something they would ask their children to do. They downsized, began farming organically, and formed a group called North Star Neighbors which they now manage by marketing and delivering meat raised by their members. Jim actively works with others trying to establish fair and new markets for small farmers.
Jim and Carolyn have four children and eleven grandchildren all living within 30 miles of their home. Family and neighbors are their most important resource.
Doug and Krista Dittman own and operate Branched Oak Farm, a certified organic dairy with an on-farm creamery. The milk from their 30-cow Jersey herd is processed into artisan, farmstead cheese that has won numerous national awards for quality and taste.
Doug has farmed in Nebraska for 20 years. He has a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Kansas and a Production Agriculture degree from North Central Kansas Vocational Technical School. He also attended the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. He has worked on farms and ranches across the U.S. and Europe, and has served on the boards of Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society and Cornhusker Bank.
Jon owns and operates Open Sky Farm in Otoe County, Nebraska. Open Sky Farm uses sustainable practices to raise cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys, as well as fruits and vegetables.
Jon grew up on a family farm where they raised cattle, hogs, corn, and soybeans. He went off to college and moved away, but after a 13-year hiatus, he could no longer ignore his desire to work with the land. He and his wife moved out to an old farmstead in 2011 and have been hard at work ever since. Jon continues to work full-time as a project manager where he oversees the acquisition of land for projects such as wind and solar farms. The only thing more important than his farming is his family, and Jon spends as much time as he can with his beautiful wife, Jamie, and their daughter, Clara.
The council works jointly with the Nebraska Farmers Union, the second oldest agricultural organization in the state, to pursue market opportunities for farmers and ranchers whose agricultural practices adhere to animal welfare standards, as well as facilitate a dialogue with individual farmers, ranchers and the organizations that represent them.