One of Union County's largest farms recently received national honors for its efforts to reduce its environmental impact.

One of Union County's largest farms recently received national honors for its efforts to reduce its environmental impact.

New Day Farms, an egg producing operation located in Raymond, won the 2010 Family Farm Environmental Excellence Award, presented by the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association (PEA). The farm was eligible for the national award after receiving the 2009 Environmental Stewardship Award from the Ohio Livestock Coalition and the Ohio Poultry Association last April.

The PEA recognized five poultry farms with the award during its international poultry expo in Atlanta earlier this year.

The award is given in recognition of exemplary environmental stewardship by family farmers engaged in poultry and egg production, according to the PEA.

"The poultry industry has been a leader in environmental management," said association chairman Steve Willardsen. "But we must continue to be a responsible steward, using advancing technologies and the latest management techniques to do our part in maintaining a clean environment. Our family farm environmental excellence competition is just another way to emphasize our commitment."

Steve Bliesner, general manager of New Day Farms LLC, said that today's demanding market mandates an emphasis on environmental health and safety.

"In today's society, the emphasis is on food safety," Bliesner said. "To consistently distinguish our products in the marketplace, we must continuously strive to improve quality while simultaneously improving the efficiencies it takes to produce our egg products. What we produce today, people eat tomorrow."

New Day Farms LLC was formed in July 2007, after it bought part of the Daylay Egg Farm operation. Daylay was mainly an egg grader selling carton eggs to grocery chains, according to Bliesner. After New Day took over, grading machines were switched out for breaker machines to supply the liquid egg market. No whole eggs at all are sold from New Day Farms, Bliesner said.

Today, New Day Farms is composed of six operating divisions (pullets, production, processing, quality, composting, and administrative), and is home to 1.6 million white leghorn chickens. Those chickens feed two million people across the nation each day, Bliesner said.

"Twenty years ago when I first walked into this field, you'd think to yourself, 'That's a lot of chickens in a cage,'" Bliesner said. "But we have a 10-percent mortality rate, compared to the 80-percent you'd see if the chickens were outside. "We're selling agriculture so we can sell cheap, safe food."

Applicants for the award were rated in several categories, including dry litter or liquid manure management, nutrient management planning, community involvement, wildlife enhancement techniques, innovative nutrient management strategies, and participation in education or outreach programs.

Applications are reviewed and farm visits conducted by a team of environmental professionals from universities, regulatory agencies and state trade associations in selecting national winners, according to the PEA.