2012

AGA NEWS & PRESS

News Archives

  • Why Meat Terminology Is Important

    by Marilyn Noble, AGA Communications Director (from the AGA producer newsletter, 5/10/12)

    One of the things I like best about my job is being able to educate consumers and the media about grassfed meats and the people who commit their efforts to raising and producing them. Sometimes, though, it feels like I’m up to my hips in feedlot manure, especially when it comes to terminology and labeling.

    A couple of weeks ago I read an article written by a food writer who said she doesn’t feel that the term grassfed is accurate, so from now on she’s going to refer to grassfed meat as grass-finished. In her mind, that may be more clear, but in the real world, it’s totally incorrect and does her readers a disservice. And then I read about a James Beard Award-winning chef who referred to the meat he serves as “some grassfed and some ‘grassfed and grain-finished.'” WRONG!

    I don’t think either of these people is ill-intentioned or trying to deceive anyone — they simply haven’t been educated about the correct terminology. And if people in the food industry don’t know, how confused must the general public be?

    That’s why it’s vitally important for anyone who raises and sells grassfed products to use uniform terminology and to educate the customer. One reason people stop buying sustainably-raised food is that they get overwhelmed and confused by all of the different labels, and it’s just easier to give up and buy a dozen factory-raised white eggs and a Styrofoam tray of ground beef.  If we’re going to continue to grow into something more than a tiny niche market in the multi-billion dollar food industry, we all have to be sending the same message.

    Below is a terminology primer. Feel free to copy it and add it to your website, pass it out to your customers at the farmers market, or incorporate it into your newsletter. (As always, please give AGA attribution.) If you or your processor, distributor, or customers have any questions, please don’t hesitate to  email us.  And if there’s any way we can help you spread the word, let us know. We’re here to support you.

    A Meat Terminology Primer for Consumers

  • Consumers Want Transparency in Labeling, According to New Study

    GREENVILLE, NC (April 26, 2012)– Animal Welfare Approved (AWA), the nonprofit certification program for pasture-based family farms, and the Center for Sustainable Tourism at East Carolina University, have just announced the results of a survey aimed at understanding consumer preference for sustainable meat, dairy and eggs. The national survey was conducted online in 2011 and focused on food choices while traveling, dining out, and eating at home.

    Initial findings offer good news for sustainable farmers, as well as the retailers and restaurants offering their products. Almost half of respondents reported including sustainable meat, dairy, and/or eggs in 1-5 meals each week.  The vast majority of respondents believe sustainable products are healthier (89.6%), more nutritious (80.8%), better tasting (80.7%), better for the environment (93.8%), and safer (86.3%) than conventionally raised animal products. Additionally, a majority of respondents stated that they would pay more for sustainably raised meat, dairy and eggs, but noted these products were difficult to find in chain grocery stores. As 60% of respondents reported shopping in these chain grocery stores, this could represent a marketing opportunity for sustainable farms.

    AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther explained the evolution of the study: “We knew the demand was there. Proving it was another matter, and we are grateful to Dr. Carol Kline and her team, our partners on the study, for demonstrating the tremendous potential of this growing market and the importance of transparent labeling.” The study also revealed promising findings for farms engaged in agritourism. A majority of respondents reported a willingness to pay for a tour of a sustainable farm, and believed the visit would increase their loyalty to the farm brand.

    The theme of transparency was a common thread throughout the study, and was most apparent in the overwhelming consumer demand for transparent labeling. Nearly all respondents said that clear labeling for animal products was very important to increasing the production and consumption of sustainably raised meats. Gunther concluded, “This study confirms what we have been advocating all along -informed consumers make sustainable choices.”

    Read the full report at  http://www.animalwelfareapproved.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/2011-Animal-Products-Survey.pdf. 

     

  • AGA Approves New Feed Supplement

    The American Grassfed Association Certification Committee has added BovaZyme®, a feed additive distributed by RJ Ag Products, L.L.C., to the list of supplements approved for use in beef and dairy cattle feeding.

    Scientific studies and field trials have shown that  BovaZyme® creates microbial growth directly in the rumen, enabling the animal to absorb all available nutrients from the food source.  BovaZyme® has been shown to help prevent bloat issues, increase rate of gain, increase conception rates, decrease mortality, help animals to better handle transitioning stress of all sorts, improve milk production, improve manure consistency, and improve feed efficiency.

    BovaZyme® is administered either as a free range mineral or in cooked tubs. The company also has products for swine, goats, and chickens.

    “The Certification Committee has thoroughly vetted this product and found it to be in compliance with our standards. Our members can use it, knowing that it meets our certification criteria,” said Carrie Balkcom, AGA’s executive director.

    For more information on this product or to learn if it has a part in your feeding program, contact Terry Sheffield at 704-995-5477 or terry@rjagproducts.com, or visit the RJ Ag Products web site.

    To learn more about AGA’s standards regarding supplements, download a copy of the standards.

    Bovazyme® is a registered trademark of York Ag Products, Inc.

  • Grasslands Soils Offer Some Insurance Against Climate Change

    ScienceDaily (Jan. 29, 2012) — The earth beneath our feet plays an important role in carbon storage – a key factor in climate change – and new research published in Nature Climate Change this week shows that in times of drought some types of soil perform better than others.

    Research led by Dr Franciska de Vries of Lancaster University, showed that in drought conditions soil under agricultural grasslands was able to continue doing its job of containing carbon rather than releasing it into the atmosphere. Soil under intensively managed wheat fields, however was not so efficient.

    The grasslands in the study also retained their nutrients better under drought conditions, when compared with wheat fields. The grassland soils did their job better because the soil biota in them consisted mainly of fungi, and the small animals which eat fungi, whereas in the wheat field they were mainly bacteria and bacterial-eating animals. Less fungi died because of the drought, so they could continue performing their functions. [Read More]

  • How to Buy Grassfed Meats

    by guest blogger Marilyn Noble, Communications Director, American Grassfed Association

    Grass-fed meats are showing up everywhere—in grocery stores, at farmer’s markets, and on the menus of burger joints and fine dining restaurants. Why? Because, compared to grain-fed, the meat is healthier for people (it has a more nutritious fat profile and more vitamins and minerals), is healthier for the environment, and has a more delicious flavor profile. There’s also the issue of humane treatment: Grass-fed animals living on open pasture almost always enjoy a better life than their grain-fed counterparts who spend the last months of their lives confined to feedlots.

    In the old days, you could pay a visit to the meat counter in your locally owned grocery store or butcher shop and ask the butcher anything you wanted to know about the meat you were considering for dinner that night—how to cook it, where the cut originated on the animal, and which of your neighboring farms raised the meat. Those days came to an end with the advent of chain grocery stores, commodity farming, and Styrofoam packaging. But that’s changing, especially in large urban centers. [READ MORE]

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