The AGA standards/certification committee has released the AGA Grassfed Dairy Standards-DRAFT for AGA Approved Grassfed Dairy certification. The comment period is closed and the standards are under review by our certification committee. We will announce the final standards soon.
As an ambitious program in Colombia demonstrates, combining grazing and agriculture with tree cultivation can coax more food from each acre, boost farmers’ incomes, restore degraded landscapes, and make farmland more resilient to climate change.
by Lisa Palmer
Over the last two decades, cattle rancher Carlos Hernando Molina has replaced 220 acres of open pastureland with trees, shrubs, and bushy vegetation. But he hasn’t eliminated the cows. Today, his land in southwestern Colombia more closely resembles a perennial nursery at a garden center than a grazing area. Native, high-value timber like mahogany and samanea grow close together along the perimeter of the pasture. The trees are strung with electric wire and act as live fences. In the middle of the pen grow leucaena trees, a protein-packed forage tree, and beneath the leucaena are three types of tropical grasses and groundcover such as peanuts.
The plants provide his 90 head of cattle with vertical layers of grazing, leading to twice the milk and meat production per acre while reducing the amount of land needed to raise them. His operation is part of a trend globally to sustainably coax more food from each acre — without chemicals and fertilizers — while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing biodiversity, and enhancing the land’s ability to withstand the effects of climate change.
Two recent papers by British and other scientists are calling for big changes in the type and amounts of meat we eat. One of these papers, co-authored by Professor Mark Sutton from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, calls for a 50% reduction in total meat consumption. The other, co-authored by Professor Pete Smith from Aberdeen University, seeks a big reduction in the number of sheep, cattle and other ruminants. Large numbers of campaigners also see reducing meat, especially red meat, as the single most important change to make farming more sustainable and all of us healthier.
The Sustainable Food Trust has reflected some of this opinion on this blog, because we agree that meat is a key issue and we want to help stimulate debate and interest in this important subject.
However, we have grave concerns that the way this ‘eat less meat’ message has been conceived and articulated over many years – it has in fact been running in various forms for more than 30 years – and in its current manifestation, is actually part of the problem, not part of the solution – making agriculture less, not more, sustainable, making diets more unhealthy, food production less secure, whilst destroying wildlife and planetary ecosystems in the process. Contrary to most other campaign groups, in direct opposition to them in fact, we believe that the consumption of red meat, dairy produce and animal fats needs to be increased, not decreased.