2016

AGA NEWS & PRESS

News Archives

  • AGA Board Approves Grassfed Dairy Standard

    (Denver, CO) American Grassfed Association’s Board of Directors has given final approval to the new AGA Grassfed Dairy Standards. More than a year in development, the standard is the result of the work of a diverse group of stakeholders, including representatives from AGA, Organic Valley, Maple Hill Creamery, Traders Point Farm Organics, Trickling Springs Creamery, Cabriejo Creamery, Pennsylvania Certified Organic and NOFA New York. Independent dairy consultants Dr. Meg Cattell, Dr. Arden Nelson and Dr. Silvia Abel-Caine contributed their expertise.

    The working group collaborated using a three-pronged approach to create the science-based, rigorous marketing claim:

    • To ensure the healthy and humane treatment of dairy animals.
    • To meet consumer expectations about grassfed dairy products.
    • To be economically feasible for small and medium-size dairy farmers.

    AGA hosted stakeholder meetings in Denver with facilitator Mark Lipson, former USDA organic policy advisor and current research associate at the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, University of California Santa Cruz. The standards were drafted by AGA’s certification committee under the direction of Don Davis. The working group sought public comment from both consumers and producers during the process.

    “We are grateful to Drs. Cattell, Nelson, and Abel-Caine, and also Don Davis, who worked diligently on this standard for more than a year,” said Carrie Balkcom, AGA’s executive director. “We also want to thank all of the other stakeholders for their collaboration and commitment to creating a workable grassfed dairy standard that will benefit producers and consumers alike.”

    The working group is currently developing a timeline and procedure for implementation of the new standard, with an anticipated roll-out at AGA’s annual producer conference February 8-9 at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY.

  • AGA Responds to FSIS Grassfed Guidance, Encourages Readers to Comment

    Recently, FSIS announced it would provide guidance for using the grassfed label claim, something lacking since AMS rescinded the grassfed standard earlier this year. The new guidance is similar to the old AMS standard:

    “‘Grass Fed’ or ‘100% Grass Fed’ claims may only be applied to meat and meat product labels derived from cattle that were only (100%) fed grass (forage) after being weaned from their mother’s milk. The diet must be derived solely from forage, and animals cannot be fed grain or grain by-products and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season until slaughter.”

    The guidance also spells out the documentation needed for FSIS approval:

    1. A detailed written description explaining controls for ensuring that the raising claim is valid from birth to harvest or the period of raising being referenced by the claim; (e.g., controls to ensure cattle that are supposed to be raised 100% grass fed are not fed grains);

    2. A signed and dated document describing the diet of the animals to support that the claims are not false or misleading;

    3. A written description of the product tracing and segregation mechanism from time of slaughter or further processing through packaging and wholesale or retail distribution;

    4. A written description for the identification, control, and segregation of non- conforming animals/product.

    While AGA is pleased that FSIS has listened to producers and consumers and issued guidelines, we believe that a system that relies on affidavits for verification, rather than actual third-party inspections, is flawed and incomplete.

    The new guidelines ignore the perception of many consumers that grassfed meat is raised without antibiotics and hormones. Also, with country-of-origin labeling no longer available, consumers are left in the dark about whether the meat they’re purchasing came from the family farm down the road or a massive facility half-a-world away.

    Finally, FSIS is admittedly short-staffed and has no plans to add trained employees to evaluate the additional requirements of the guidance. We fear this will mean a rise in the numbers of unsubstantiated grassfed label claims and lead to further erosion of consumer confidence in the grassfed label.

    FSIS is seeking public comments on the new guidance. We urge you to review the document and then comment before December 5, either online or by mail.

    To comment by U.S. mail, send to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), FSIS, Patriots Plaza 3, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Mailstop 3782, 8-163A, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

    All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name, FSIS, and document title: Food Safety and Inspection Service Statement of Labeling Guideline on Documentation Needed to Substantiate Animal Raising Claims for Label Submissions. Comments received will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to http://www.regulations.gov.

  • Update from the Dairy Standards working group

    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.
  • AGA Seeking Public Comments on Provisional Dairy Standard

    (DENVER) American Grassfed Association is developing an industry standard for certifying grassfed dairy production. A group of stakeholders and experts, including CROPP/ Organic Valley, Maple Hill Creamery, Traders Point Farm Organics, Trickling Springs Creamery, Pennsylvania Certified Organic, NOFA-New York Certified Organic, Dr. Meg Cattell, and Dr. Arden Nelson, is collaborating with AGA to create a science-based standard that will provide an economically feasible blueprint for producers and a guarantee that consumers’ expectations are met when they purchase grassfed dairy products.

    The combined working group has reached consensus on a provisional production standard that will form the basis for the grassfed dairy market claim. This provisional standard has been distributed to various producer groups for feedback and is now available for public comment. The document is available here: AGA Grassfed Dairy Standards.

    If you wish to comment on the standard, please email BEFORE June 30.

  • Grassfed Dairy Standards Working Group Reaches Consensus on Provisional Production Standard

    Grassfed Dairy Standards Working Group Reaches Consensus on Provisional Production Standard

    (DENVER) American Grassfed Association is developing an industry standard for certifying grassfed dairy production. A group of stakeholders and experts, including CROPP/ Organic Valley, Maple Hill Creamery, Traders Point Farm Organics, Trickling Springs Creamery, Pennsylvania Certified Organic, NOFA New York Certified Organic, Dr. Meg Cattell, and Dr. Arden Nelson, is collaborating with AGA to create a science-based standard that will provide an economically feasible blueprint for producers and a guarantee that consumers’ expectations are met when they purchase grassfed dairy products.
     
    The combined working group has reached consensus on a provisional production standard that will form the basis for the grassfed dairy market claim. This provisional standard will now be distributed to producers and other stakeholders for discussion. Public circulation and discussion of the provisional standard will begin in the near future. The next phase of the project will include the development of an implementation structure and timeline for adoption.

    For further information, please contact AGA communications director Marilyn Noble, Marilyn@americangrassfed.org.

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