• Grassfed Producers Can Help The Planet; Meatless Monday Cannot: The result of the Climate Friendly Farming Panel


    Grassfed Producers Can Help The Planet; Meatless Monday Cannot: The result of the Climate Friendly Farming Panel

    Carrie was a featured speaker on the Climate Friendly Farming Panel where she discussed how Grassfed farming/ranching and regenerative grazing practices for livestock can actually improve soil, plant, and animal health for an overall positive impact on the Earth and Earth’s Climate.   

    She was joined by:

    • Elena Neri, Italy, head of INDACO2 
    • Emanuela Ceruti, Italy, producer of the Macagn Presidium
    • Peggy Neu, USA, Meatless Monday campaign director
    • Fabien Santini, Belgium, DG Agri

    The main message and theme that emerged from this panel was to understand that animals on the land in a way that they are living naturally, not existing in a factory is the most key component to changing the tune in people’s heads and on scientists lips when talking about emissions. The problem as also stated by Elena Neri and Fabien Santini was that the CAFOs and the distributions processes to make those system successful are a huge issue in green house gas emissions.  It was proven that if animals are kept on pasture, fed a diet consistent with what they are supposed to eat (forage not cereals), and consumers are purchasing locally made goods from the local, small pasture famers (not goods shipped internationally), the emissions and carbon footprint are reduced significantly.  In addition, it was also shown that the production of the cereals needed to feed the massive amount ruminants kept in CAFOs was just as bad for the climate for two reasons – soil degradation from industrialized monoculture and emissions from tractors, processing facilities, and shipping methods.

    Emmanuela Ceruti, explained that she is scared that when people do not understand  why farming as she does is positive, why eating and producing meat and goods from animals is beneficial, and why buying local is important, not only will she lose her livelihood for her family but her way of life will eventually be a thing of the past.   People will go to small family farms like hers where animals are out on pasture and vegetables are rotated and grown by season to see it as an exhibit, like a museum for how food was grown and how farmers lived once upon a time.  

    Hearing these stories and seeing initiatives like Meatless Monday now pushing not just for a reduction in consumption but as a way to begin the journey to vegetarianism or veganism is alarming and frankly dangerous. To be clear, AGA is not against vegetables or eating a bulk of vegetable as a diet but we do believe in eating meat.  Eat less meat of better quality is what we are saying. Not eating meat on Monday, and not eating meat at all isn’t fixing the problem. We need to go back to eating the right meat and foods ALL the time. Go back to supporting the local Grassfed farmer, not the CAFOs.  


    The conference wrap up!

     The conference has come to a close and we are leaving with a bigger sense of purpose, new friends and alliances, reinvigorated about achieving our goals, and inspired to always continue to improve and educate.

    It was 4 days of extensive panels and interesting networking opportunities that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.  We were able to workshop ideas with international grassfed leaders and provide insight and discussion to their own set of questions and topics brought to the table.  We got to visit the very first Eataly – which is one of my favorite places to visit for food in NYC- so that was a huge win for me personally.  We even fit in a bit a time to see the surrounding city area which hold history and beauty at almost every turn.

    Again, the take-aways and insights we have gotten from this conference were truly refreshing and motivating.  We cannot wait to come back again in 2020! 

  • Terra Madre: Digging In


    Salone Del Gusto:

    The Salone Del Gusto, as I have learned is the biggest international event dedicated to food. It is a biennial event that gathers representatives, chefs, restaurateurs, farmers, students, teachers, researchers and more for countries all over the world.  This year alone, there were over 150 nations represented.  It is held in an enormous arena and event center where there are three different buildings dedicated to holding this event as well as smaller paid entry events and dinners hosted all around the city of Turin.  To learn more about Salone Del Gusto, see all the events, news, partners, and exhibitors, visit their page – https://salonedelgusto.com

    Day one:

    While Carrie and I ran into several obstacles getting to Turin and the conference we made it… Hurray!

    Within the hour of arriving at Terra Madre Salone Del Gusto, we bumped into several representatives from the USA that Carrie has worked alongside for years. It was a great chance for me to step in and learn a bit more history about AGA’s role with other organizations and more specifically, within this conference over the past 7 gatherings in Turin.  As the conference grew, so did the recognition of AGA as an authority among international grassfed groups, slow food chapters, and individuals working within the industry.  The conversations ranged from direct access to farmers and farmers markets for personal purchases and public supply (like schools) and incorporation of better food and menu options in hotels for guests and conferences to the climate, chef dinners, and food movements.

    After the flurry of catch-up and networking, we got a peak at the international booths – with over 150 nations being represented, walk the food expo ARENA (seriously it’s huge), tasted some delicious… and some, odd tasting samples of cured meats, cheeses, olives, spreads, drinks, and other miscellaneous snacks!  We also attended the USA delegate meeting and it was great to see so many representatives there.  Again, the topics truly ranged as the idea of good, fair food for everyone touches on many lives and many aspects of those lives. 

    Overall, day one’s takeaway was this –  We are on the right path but we need to be open to even more change and reinvention. We need to recognize failure and change course.  We need to feed and educate children about food, where it comes from, and how to cook it, because when we are gone, they are the legacy that will continue to change the world.  We need to make commitments to producers and truly act on those commitments in order to save the rural communities and thereby saving our food and planet from the current abuse.  And finally, we are many, but we still need many.   We need to keep going, keep talking, and keep educating because each voice will help the many grow and eventually the many will overpower the corporate.  So, Let’s get to work AGA!

    Day 2:

    Today was a day for the books in the grassfed world – literally.  AGA met with the leaders and affiliated farmers of grassfed organizations from the UK, South Africa, Romania, and Italy.  We shared ideas on how to help each other grow as an organization, discussed common obstacles faced by grassfed producers, recognize where each organization has been and where it is going and more.  We have big plans in store but we can’t spill the beans yet – looks like you will just have to stay tuned until we are able to meet with them again next year.

    After our meeting, we literally broke bread, and shared a family style lunch of delicious grassfed meats and cheeses and hand picked fruits from their farms across Europe and Africa.

    We closed out the day with yet another high note at a panel about the quality of farming for Cattle. There were panelists from Japan, Uganda, Italy, South Africa, Germany and the UK.   Each bringing with them a unique perspective on farming and how their environment and cultural traditions play a role in their grassfed and pasture fed systems for meat and dairy production.  The common thread however between them all was also a core value at AGA – at the core they all understand the same thing: quality gives quality and in order to get quality you must care about all aspects of the process, all the needs of the animal, and all the impacts your decisions in raising animals makes on your environment.

    Day 2 was a great day!

    Learn more about the Organizations and Representatives we met with:

    Pasture for Life – UK

    Caroline McCann – Braeside Butchery – South Africa

    Associazione Italiana Alimente Grass-fed

    Ceres Farm – Romania


  • USDA Extends Deadline for “Product of U.S.A.” Comment Period


    August 21, 2018


    USDA Extends Deadline for “Product of U.S.A.” Comment Period

    Washington, D.C. — Citing “significant interest from stakeholders,” the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) approved a request from the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) and American Grassfed Association (AGA) to extend the public comment period for the groups’ petition to stop imported meat from being mislabeled “Product of U.S.A.” The new deadline for comments is Monday, September 17, 2018 @11:59pm EST.

    The OCM and AGA joint petition, filed on June 12, 2018, would restore the original FSIS handbook definition of “Product of U.S.A.,” which was based on the origin of the ingredients being labeled. Sometime between April 1985 and August 2005 the ingredient-based standard was repealed by FSIS and replaced with an undefined processing standard. Following the repeal of mandatory Country of Origin Labeling in 2015, global meatpacking corporations began abusing the label by misbranding meat and meat products from foreign countries as “Product of U.S.A.” after moving them through USDA-inspected processing plants.

    The proposed policy change has received almost exclusively positive comments from a wide-ranging base of nearly 2,000 farm and food stakeholders. Supportive comments were submitted by farm organizations including National Farmers UnionNational Family Farm Coalition, and U.S. Cattlemen’s Association; more than 50 members of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, including Farm Aid and Union of Concerned Scientists; policy and community organizations, including the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and Western Organization of Resource CouncilsUnited Food and Commercial Workers, a leading labor organization; The Humane Society of the United States, a leading animal welfare organization, and businesses including Natural Grocers and Strauss Brands. Comments submitted by individual farmers and consumers have been overwhelmingly positive. In the minority are a couple of organizations whose representation and interests lie with multinational meatpacking corporations that profit from the deceptive standard.

    In a video posted on OCM’s Facebook page this past week, consumers’ outrage over the misbranding of the origin of meat is clear as grocery shoppers are told the “Product of U.S.A.” label does not mean the meat products actually originate from the U.S.A.

    OCM and AGA encourages everyone to take action by filing comments before the new September 17, 2018 deadline.


    American Grassfed Association is national membership-based multi-species organization dedicated to protecting and promoting grassfed producers and grassfed products through education, marketing, research, and government relations.

    Media Contact:
    Carrie Balkcom

    Organization for Competitive Markets is a national membership-based research and advocacy organization working for open and competitive markets and fair trade in America’s food and agricultural sectors.

    Media Contact:

    Angela Huffman
    (614) 390-7552

  • JUST ANNOUNCED: FSIS Granted a 30 day extended comment period for “Product of USA” Label Claim Petition

    AGA and OCM are excited to receive this extended comment period!  We are asking everyone to make this final push really count!  

    Food and food labels effect everyone, not just the farmers we represent – food impacts retailers, consumers, restauranteurs, chefs, and everyone in-between.
    If you or your staff, neighbors, friends, family, alliance members, or anyone you know with a name, an email, and eats food hasn’t yet signed, please take a minute and consider to showing your support and asking others to show their support for you, your work, and the food systems we believe in by commenting on the petition!  

    Here is the link to comment: https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FSIS-2018-0024 

    If you think you would like some inspiration on what to write, here is a link to some key points: https://www.americangrassfed.org/comment-period-officially-open-change-labeling-policy-with-letters-of-support-for-aga-and-ocm-petition/


    FSIS Extends Comment Period for Petition on “Product of U.S.A.” Labeling Claim

    FSIS is extending the comment period for a petition submitted by the Organization for Competitive Markets and the American Grassfed Association requesting that FSIS change the “Product of U.S.A.” entry in the FSIS Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book. The petition was submitted on June 12, 2018, and posted to the FSIS website on June 18, 2018. The petition is available on the FSIS website at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/195183b8-d436-4914-8b73-449fd0a5a623/18-05-Amercan-Grassfed-Association-061818.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

    FSIS’ regulations permit interested persons to submit comments on petitions filed with the Agency and provide for posting these comments on the FSIS website (9 CFR 392.7). The regulations also state that comments on a petition should be submitted within 60 days of the posting date of the petition (9 CFR 392.7(b)). The comment period for the USCA petition was scheduled to close on Aug. 17, 2018. However, the petition has generated significant interest from stakeholders, and on Aug. 14, 2018, FSIS received a request to extend the comment period. Therefore, FSIS is extending the comment period for an additional 30 days. 

    To facilitate submission and public posting of comments, interested persons may submit comments online via the federal eRulemaking portal at: http://www.regulations.gov; by mail sent to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Mailstop 3758, Room 6065, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700; or by hand or courier delivery to 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6065, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700.

    All comments submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and identification number FSIS-2018-0024. Comments on this petition will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to: http://www.regulations.gov. Comments on the petition should be submitted by Sept. 17, 2018.

  • Comment Period Officially Open: Change Labeling Policy with Letters of Support for AGA and OCM Petition

    The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has posted for public commentour petition for policy change on the use of the “Product of U.S.A.” label for meat and meat products. We are calling on farmers, ranchers and consumers to file their individual comments and letters of support by the FSIS deadline of August 17, 2018.
    OCM and the American Grassfed Association filed the petition for the change in policy to ensure only U.S. domestic meat products can be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” The current policy allows foreign meat to be imported into the U.S. and bear the label “Product of U.S.A.” if it simply passes through a USDA-inspected plant, and the abuses of this label are rampant. 
    The FSIS policy needs to be clarified to stop global interests from profiting from mislabeling the country of origin of their meat and to ensure America’s family farmers and ranchers are given a fair opportunity to market their products to American consumers who care where their food comes from and want to support products made in America.
    Though it’s important that each letter of support is unique, please feel free to consider the following points while drafting your support letter:
    • The current FSIS labeling policy for “Product of U.S.A.” grants foreign countries and foreign interests unfair marketing opportunity that harms America’s family farmers by allowing foreign entities to receive a premium from consumers who unwittingly believe they are buying meat and meat products with ingredients that originate domestically.
    • Research has shown that as many as 93% of Americans want to know where their food comes from and 75% of Americans indicate the source of origin of their food is a major attribute when making their food choices. The current FSIS policy misleads Americans when they are making their purchases and denies America’s family farmers these food dollars. FSIS food labeling policy for “Product of U.S.A.” should be based on the source of the ingredients. 
    • The current FSIS labeling policy for “Product of U.S.A.” deceives America’s consumers who have clearly demonstrated they will pay a premium for meat and meat products sourced domestically by misbranding foreign meat and meat products as “Product of U.S.A.” 
    • Australia is a leading beef exporter into the U.S. and has just implemented a mandatory retail Country of Origin Labeling requirement. The current U.S. policy that allows Australian beef to pass through a USDA inspected facility and then to be labeled “Product of U.S.A.” clearly gives Australian ranchers and foreign interests a grossly unfair marketing advantage over American family farmers by allowing these foreign interests to receive a premium in both the U.S. and Australian market. 
    • Both the Federal Meat Inspection Act and FSIS regulations clearly establish that meat and meat product labels must not mislead the consumer nor must they be false. FMIA states that meat or meat food products shall be “misbranded” if its “labeling is false or misleading in any particular.” The current FSIS policy on labeling “Product of U.S.A.” must be clarified to correctly reflect the federal law ensuring U.S. consumers are not misled or deceived. 
    • In passing the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), Congress acknowledged the financial harm misbranding and mislabeling causes America’s livestock producers and clearly stated this as a key basis for the adoption of FMIA.
    Thank you for taking action on this important issue,
    The American Grassfed Association
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