Toward A Unified Certification Standard for Grassfed Dairy Production

WHO: The Grassfed Dairy Standards working group is a producer-centered initiative for a unified grassfed dairy certification standard. The GFDS working group was established in early 2016 and comprises the following organizations and businesses:

American Grassfed Association, Organic Valley, Maple Hill Creamery, Trickling Springs, Pennsylvania Certified Organic, NOFA-NY Certified Organic, Dreaming Cow, Cabriejo, and Whole Foods Market.

WHAT: The GFDS working group is stewarding an agreement to harmonize the active and emerging standards[1] for marketing of certified grassfed claims. The goal is a producer-driven, unified market standard of identity for dairy products from fully grassfed animals (i.e. maximum grazing with seasonal forage feeding). The group is committed to a standard that:

    Is drawn from and implemented for best practices of both organic and non-organic production.
    Is based on the priority of maintaining healthy grassfed dairy animals and dairy herds in ecologically sound grazing and forage systems.
    Eliminates grains in the animals’ diet.
    Maximizes the animals’ time on grass and consumption of pasture.
    Requires healthy, balanced forages to complement the pasture-based diet.
    Allows for limited, science-based provision of non-grain dietary supplements.
    Is rigorous, efficiently auditable, adaptable to new information, and usable by producers in diverse regions and production settings.
    Is economically viable for family farms.

 WHY: Well-managed, fully grassfed dairy systems have outstanding regenerative benefits for family farm survival, ruminant animal health, human nutrition, environmental integrity, and soil-carbon accumulation. Wider effect and improvement of these benefits cannot be achieved without a clear market standard and certification system.

HOW: The working group is harmonizing the recently emerging GFD standards and preparing a consensus proposal for common adoption. The proposal is intended to be implemented under the seal of American Grassfed Association.

WHEN: The working group formed in late 2015. A Provisional Standard was completed in May 2016. It was made available on the AGA website for review by the working group’s producers and others. As of August 1, the Provisional Standard is under final revision. The working group intends to provide a completed recommendation to AGA’s Standards Committee in late 2016 for subsequent adoption by the AGA Board of Directors. Implementation[2] of certification arrangements under the standard would proceed after its establishment.

For more information and to receive further updates, please contact AGA through Carrie Balkcom.

[1] In late 2015, the Grassfed Dairy standards to be unified were the published and implemented PCO/NOFA standard; the published AGA draft standard; and the internal Organic Valley Grassmilk© protocol.
[2] i.e. first applications, inspection agreements, audit and certification manuals, use-of-seal arrangements, etc.