Tuesday, December 1, 2015

I am Indiana Agriculture: Dan Doles

By Sarah Mahan of This Farm Family's Life

Dan Doles of Greensburg has been around farming his entire life.  His great, great grandfather, Isaac Doles, settled the parcel of land where Dan currently lives in 1836.  “I have helped farm the family farm since I was in high school.  We raised beef cattle, hogs, and crops.  At one time, we used to have a cow herd of about 200 cows that calved in the spring and fall, as well as purchasing feeder cattle to feed out.  Our swine operation was much smaller with a farrow-to-finish operation consisting of about 80 sows.  At that time, I was farming with my father, uncle, and cousin.  My father and uncle have since retired and the family has divided the farm acreage, and my brother-in-law and sister currently farm the ‘home’ farm which my father owns.”  Dan has two sisters, one of whom lives in North Carolina and the other lives just southwest of Greensburg, raising her family and farming with her husband.  They also sell products from their operation to local farmers’ markets.

In the winter of 1987, Dan attended a short course at Purdue University studying agriculture.  Then, in June 2015, he spent 4 weeks at Texas A&M University training for his current career as an Enforcement, Investigation, and Analysis Officer (EIAO).  Dan works for the Meat and Poultry Inspection Division of the Indiana State Board of Animal Health (BOAH), where he began as a meat inspector, then was promoted to EIAO in January of 2015.  “I am responsible for conducting Food Safety Assessments (FSAs) at official meat processing establishments throughout this great state of Indiana.  An FSA is an in-depth assessment of an establishment’s food safety and sanitation procedures that ensure the meat and poultry products they process are safe to eat.  I also directly observe employees in the performance of their duties to verify if they are following  safe food processing and handling methods.”

When asked why he decided to become a meat inspector, Dan said that in 2005 he took a part-time job working in one of the state-inspected processing establishments on the slaughter floor handling the live animals. That is where he met the BOAH inspectors who monitored the plant.  “In 2009, my father and I had a meeting and decided it was not economical for us to continue to purchase feeder cattle and fatten them out for market.  We decided to rent the farm ground and phase-out feeding cattle,” explained Dan, who had to seek other work.   “I informed the inspection staff, before I resigned, to call me if a position in my area opened up. In 2011, a position opened, and I was hired as a meat inspector.  I have found it has been a wonderful career change and I have no regrets.”

Consumers are once again concerned about antibiotics in the meat they purchase.   Dan offered this piece of information to ease consumer’s minds: “State Meat and Poultry Inspection inspectors collect random drug residue samples, as well as USDA-directed residue samples.  Any meat that tests positive for antibiotic drug residue is condemned for human consumption.”

In his free time Dan likes to be outdoors hunting, fishing, shooting/archery, and playing golf.  He also likes to volunteer his time helping his friend with his Hunter Education Course a couple of times each year.

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