2017

AGA NEWS & PRESS

News Archives

  • Unannounced Meeting to Promote the Import of Foreign Grassfed Beef Alarms U.S. Grassfed Producers and American Grassfed Association Leaders

    For Immediate Release

    Contact: Carrie Balkcom
    (303) 591-3978
    carrie@americangrassfed.org

    Contact: Will Harris
    (229) 317-0203
    will.harris@whiteoakpastures.com

     

    Unannounced Meeting to Promote the Import of Foreign Grassfed Beef Alarms U.S. Grassfed Producers and American Grassfed Association Leaders

    Denver, Colorado –   On Sept. 30, the American Grassfed Association board of directors learned of a movement that would threaten the livelihood of many American Grassfed Producers.   In response, AGA is continuing its campaign to Buy American Grassfed.

    Following a grassfed conference in upper New York State, a private group hosted a discrete, by-invitation-only meeting, “Fostering International Collaboration to Scale Premium Grass-Fed Beef” promoting corporate and foreign interests in the grassfed industry.  The key goal of the group is to help large, corporate partners to identify potential external innovation in profitable and scalable food & agriculture businesses. A goal that clearly sides with corporate interests, regardless of origin, rather than American family farmers.

    While several food industry parties, funding groups, and others were invited to attend, the American Grassfed Association (AGA), the producer-based leading organization in the Grassfed industry, was not extended this courtesy. In fact very few, if any, actual producers were in attendance or invited.  However, after a bit of questioning, Will Harris, President of the American Grassfed Association and owner of White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, GA, was able to gain permission to attend.

    The meeting “was attended by about 30 participants, and the majority seemed to see the advantage of importing foreign grassfed beef.   It also seemed that many attendees would attain a financial benefit if American grassfed beef production was replaced by imported product.” I believe that I was the only person in the room who made their living solely by producing American grassfed beef,”Harris said.

    The presenters made claims that American grassfed producers cannot support demand for production.  They believe it is in the industry’s “best-interest” to invest in imported product and that Australian imports are superior to domestic product.  What was not mentioned were any regulations, production practice standards, or government constraints that would be implemented. International marketing schemes and imported grassfed beef only serves commodity grassfed beef production systems and they work against the American grassfed producer.

    AGA firmly supports the American Grassfed producers.  AGA producers have gained trust with their consumers because their production systems are transparent and beneficial to American communities, economies, land, and animal welfare.  It is important to protect the American grassfed producer and calling attention the issues and economic devastation that these imports and foreign interests pose to the future of American land, economical, and food systems.

    ###

    About AGA: The American Grassfed Association was established on June 11, 2003 to promote the grassfed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing, and public education. Only farms and ranches certified to AGA standards may use AGA’s logo, trademark, service mark and/or design mark. AGA standards are verified by an independent, third-party, on farm yearly audit. 

  • A Letter from the AGA President: We are vehemently opposed to cooperating with any international marketing scheme and stand by our core mission to support you, The American Grassfed Producer.

    October 13, 2017
     
    To:  Members of the American Grassfed Association-
     
    Greetings from your Board of Directors;
     
    A situation is developing that I, with a majority of your Board, believe needs to be brought to your attention.  A movement has begun that could be economically devastating to those of us who produce grassfed beef in the United States, and will slow the important work we all do in creating regenerative landscapes and strengthening family farms. Although this letter only concerns itself with beef, the other species we represent may be affected in the coming years.
     
    The Grassfed Exchange Conference, held in Albany NY this year, was adjourned late afternoon on September 29.  Almost 500 good American grassfed beef producers had attended.  Most departed for home, but some stayed for an after event meeting titled “Fostering International Collaboration for Scaling Up Premium Grassfed Beef”.  I was not invited, but I chose to attend it. (This meeting was not part of the Grassfed Exchange event.)
     
    The meeting was professionally facilitated, and was attended by about 30 participants, most of whom seemed to see the advantage of importing foreign grassfed beef.  It also seemed that many attendees would attain a financial benefit if American grassfed beef production was replaced by imported product.  I believe that I was the only person in the room who made their living solely by producing American grassfed beef.
     
    Little was said by the presenters about production practices, government constraints, regulations, etc. but a great deal was shared regarding the superiority of Australian imports over our domestic production.  The prevailing belief, among this group, is that American producers cannot provide the market with a year around supply, making imports necessary to provide the market with a premium year around product.  There was also a lot said about the cost advantage foreign producers have, over our American grassfed beef producers, even after transportation costs are covered.  
     
    They were also firmly of the opinion that the imported product could enter the American grocery and foodservice distribution systems better than our product.  This was touted as a positive because our product is produced by many ‘small’ producers, and the imported product is already aggregated when it arrives on our shore.
     
    This group has done a lot of effort in studying our American production system.  I sat beside a producer who manages almost one million acres of grassfed beef production in Australia.  He shared with me that he had ‘stopped by my farm’ the previous week.  He had visited our Store and processing plant.  He made no appointment, or announced himself when he visited.  My farm is quite remote, and very few international travelers just ‘stop by’…
     
    The tone of the meeting was that the group wants to work with American producers to scale up grassfed beef in the USA with an infusion of an imported product.    We are vehemently opposed to cooperating with any international marketing scheme and stand by our core mission to support you, The American Grassfed Producer.  Imported grassfed beef has and will continue to serve to commoditize grassfed beef, by equalizing domestic and imported product in the eyes of American consumers.  They justify this by saying that their product can be more available during the cool months.  Do not forget that the costs of their production, delivery, and aggregation are below those of our domestic producers.
     
    If we position our product or believe, our beef to be the equivalent of theirs, which is wrong, why would American consumers pay any premium we need to operate? Our customers purchase products from us for three basic reasons- We have demonstrated that our production system is more regenerative for the land, is more humane for the animals, and is more vitalizing for rural communities. Given an informed choice, our customers will pick American Grassfed produced beef once they understand the benefits to our rural landscapes, our cattle and our communities. We believe that you would rather make a difference in your own community as opposed to doing so on the other side of the earth.
     
     
    Our point is that your competition is not the grassfed beef producer in the next county, or in the next state.  Our competitor is imported grassfed beef, and the American companies who want to help them deceive our customers. 
     
     We have always been and always will be the trade organization for the “Buy American Grassfed” campaign.
     
    You and your ranches are the backbone of a way of life, a way of life based on respect, integrity and sustainability.  Respect for our animals and our communities, integrity in how we do what we do and why we do it that way, and sustainable in the broadest sense, sustainable in how our communities, families and economies become resilient for our generation, the next, and the next.  Why would we give that away to someone who is here simply to make money?
     
    In 2018, we will report to you, our members on our plans and accomplishments in communicating this important message and how you can be a part of this critical work. 
     
    We have contacted the organizers of that meeting and are actively talking to and setting up face to face meetings to make certain that our voices are heard, as American Grassfed producers, and our products get their rightful due anytime there seems to be a movement to undermine it.
     
    If you have any questions, email AGA at Editor@americangrassfed.org.  Please make sure you stay in touch regarding this issue.  

    Sincerely,

    Will Harris, President
    Bluffton, Georgia

  • Kalona® SuperNaturalTM to Release First AGA Certified 100% Grass-fed Dairy Products in 2018

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    August 24, 2017

     

    Contact: Sara Rissi, sara.rissi@opengatesgroup.com

        319-646-2927 x127

     

    Kalona® SuperNaturalTM to Release First
    AGA Certified 100% Grass-fed Dairy Products in 2018

     

    August 24, 2017 (KALONA, IOWA)- Kalona® SuperNatural™ is proud to announce that it is the first dairy brand to offer 100% grass-fed products certified by the American Grassfed Association (AGA). In early 2018, two new products with this certification will be hitting store shelves, Plain and Vanilla Organic, 100% Grass-fed Cultured Whole Milk Kefir.

     

    The AGA certification guarantees that the milk used to make their 100% grass-fed products comes from cows that are pasture-grazed and fed 100% forage, with no use of grains or grain products. It also prohibits the use of confinements, growth hormones, antibiotics, and GMOs. Mindy Seiffert, Director of Sales and Marketing at Kalona Organics said, “Launching new products with the AGA certification gives us a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Today’s consumers are seeking transparency, credibility, and authenticity when it comes to label claims on their products.”

     

    Unlike other certifiers, AGA is a national organization, with an actual third party verification process. The inspectors that do the farm visits are agriculture specialists, not paid employees of AGA.

     

    “Our driving force behind getting AGA certified was transparency. We strive to get third-party verification on any claim we make on our products,” said Phil Forbes, farm liaison for the Kalona SuperNatural brand. “AGA certification helps the consumer feel confident that when we say our kefir [coming soon in 2018] is 100% grass-fed, that it indeed is just exactly that!”

     

    Kalona SuperNatural’s new kefir products will be the first AGA Certified 100% Grass-fed products on the market, with more to follow. These products will start shipping in January 2018.

    ###

    Kalona SuperNatural™, is based in a thriving organic farming community in the heartland of America – Kalona, Iowa. They work with small, sustainable Amish and Mennonite family farms to produce delicious, minimally-processed organic dairy products from pasture-grazed cows. Kalona SuperNatural offers a full-line of certified organic dairy products. Learn more at kalonasupernatural.com.

     

    American Grassfed Association was created in 2003 by a group of producers, food service personnel and consumer interest representatives. The goal of the association is to promote the grassfed industry through government relations, research, concept marketing and public education. The AGA standards are verified by an independent, third-party, on-farm yearly audit. Contact Carrie Balkcom at AGA@americangrassfed.org with media inquiries; for all other grassfed inquiries email Standards@americangrassfed.org. Visit www.americangrassfed.org to learn more.

  • FLYING B BAR RANCH GRASSFED MEAT NOW ON THE MENU AT ICONIC DENVER HOTEL

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact: Carrie Balkcom;  Editor@americangrassfed.org

     

    FLYING B BAR RANCH GRASSFED MEAT NOW ON THE MENU AT ICONIC DENVER HOTEL

    The Brown Palace Commits to Serving Local and Sustainable Products

     

    (Denver) Grassfed beef from Flying B Bar Ranch, an American Grassfed Association Certified Producer, is now on the menu at Denver’s Brown Palace restaurants. The new addition is part of the ongoing effort by Chef Garrett Kasper to include as many local and sustainable products as possible in the hotel’s dining rooms.

     

    For Brad and Margaret Buchanan of Flying B Bar in Strasburg, Colo., the opportunity is an affirmation of the work they’ve been doing since buying the ranch several years ago. Their animals are fed a diet of nothing but grass, never confined in a feedlot, and never given antibiotics or hormones. The Buchanans are also committed to conservation, both of the soil and wildlife habitat on the ranch, and the animals are humanely raised and even benefit from Margaret’s skills with massage and Reiki.

     

    “We’re really stoked about it,” said Brad Buchanan.  “They’ve really impressed us. The Brown Palace is all about local sourcing for everything – vegetables, spices, and now our beef. They’ll be buying whole loins, a fair amount of burger, short ribs, and beef cheeks.”

     

    Flying B Bar also sells direct to consumers and is working with several other restaurants and retail outlets in the Denver Metro area.

     

     

    About American Grassfed Association

     

    The American Grassfed Association and its network of family farmers and ranchers are transforming the U.S. food system by developing, implementing, and promoting pioneering standards that follow a traditional yet innovative approach to raising livestock and give more Americans the choice to consume well-produced, nutritious, and flavorful meat and dairy. The organization is based in Denver.

     

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  • URGENT: Protect our Farmers and Our Health – Stop SB 1172

    This past weekend, AGA received an action alert from  the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance that we felt we needed to share with our producers, supporters, and all farming and grassfed enthusiasts.  Below is their message:

    Today, March 20th, 2016, the Senate Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would strip city and county governments of their ability to protect their farmers and citizens from harm from agricultural chemicals.

     

    The bill, SB 1172, is deceptively simple. It prevents local governments from regulating “in any manner” either seeds or the cultivation of seeds. But by preventing any regulation on the cultivation of seeds:

     

    • It would prevent any local regulation to protect farmers from having their crops damaged or killed due to overspray or drift from other farms.
    • It would prevent any local regulation of neonicotinoids, which are bee-killing pesticides used to treat seeds as well as plants during cultivation. Bees are a vital part of our food supply, pollinating approximately 1/3 of every bite of food in the grocery stores.
    • It would prevent any local regulation of when or where herbicides, fungicides, and pesticides are sprayed, preventing any efforts to protect vulnerable populations such as school children or nursing home residents.  
    • It would prevent local governments from addressing concerns about genetic contamination of high value crops. Consider that Texas rice farmers were among those who lost hundreds of millions of dollars when their crops were contaminated with unapproved genetically engineered crops in 2006.
    • It would block local governments from responding to the many situations that we simply don’t know about yet.

     

    The bill was filed just two weeks ago, yet has already been set for a committee hearing on Monday. The Biotech and Big Ag companies clearly want to push this bill through before people even notice – and we cannot let that happen!

     

    TAKE ACTION #1: Contact your Senator

     

    Call or email your State Senator and urge him or her to oppose SB 1172.

     

    Remember that calls have the greatest impact! They can be very short, just a couple of minutes – but they are invaluable in making it clear that this issue is important to you.

     

    You can find out who your State Senator is by going to www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us or calling the Texas Capitol Switchboard at 512-463-4630.

     

    Sample text:

     

    “Hi, my name is ___, and I am a constituent. I am calling to urge Senator ____ to OPPOSE SB 1172. I want my local government to be able to address what is grown and what chemicals are used to grow it in our community – because that affects farmers, their neighbors, and the entire community. Any attempt to remove the ability of Texans and their local elected leaders from enacting common-sense protections for their farmers and communities is anti-democratic and should be defeated.”

     

    If you send an email, be sure to personalize it by explaining why this issue is important to you.

     

    TAKE ACTION #2: Spread the word

     

    Spread the word by forwarding this email and sharing our Facebook posts. We need as many people to contact their Senators as possible. We are up against companies like Monsanto and DuPont, with their deep pockets and multiple lobbyists. We CAN win against them – we’ve done it before on issues like NAIS – but we need a large grassroots outcry.

     

    TAKE ACTION #3: Come to the Hearing

     

    Come to the hearing to testify or just register your opposition!  

     

    WHEN: Monday, March 20, 2017

     

    TIME: 2 pm or upon adjournment of the Senate. Most likely, the hearing will start later in the afternoon, but we won’t know the time until that afternoon – we’ll post updates on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/FarmAndRanchFreedom, that day.

     

    WHERE: Room E1.012. This is on Floor E1 of the Capitol Extension. MAPS: http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/plan/maps/doc/capitol_building_maps/capitol_building_guide.pdf

     

    PARKING: Parking is usually available at the Capitol Visitors Center, located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th. You can find a map and other options also listed here: http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/plan/parking/parking.html

     

    WHAT TO DO: Come to the hearing room between 1 pm and 4 pm (and possibly later – it depends on when they start the hearing), and sign in at a kiosk saying you OPPOSE SB 1172.  

     

    You’ll be listed on the witness list even if you leave right after that. The witness list is important because, when the bill goes to the full Senate after the hearing, the Senators will look to see how many people were witnesses for or against the bill. Just 15 minutes can have an impact!

     

    SIGNING IN: The Texas Legislature uses electronic witness affirmation forms which are available at registration kiosks located throughout the Capitol Extension. Take the elevator down to Floor E1, and walk down the main hallway about halfway. Turn down one of the side hallways, then turn again so that you are going parallel to the main hallway. You’ll see little alcoves, where there used to be pay phones — the kiosks are in there.

    Be sure to bring this information with you:

    The bill number: SB 1172

    The committee: Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs

    The time and location of the hearing (View upcoming meetings): 2:00 pm, Room E1.012

    Position: AGAINST the bill

     

    You can choose whether you want to testify (i.e. get up and speak) or simply register as being against the bill and not testifying. If you do testify, plan to keep your comments to a maximum of 3 minutes.

     

    FOR MORE INFORMATION, please visit www.FarmAndRanchFreedom.org

     

     

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