• Seeds Planted During Pandemic Help Agricultural Organizations Grow Unique 2021 Educational Experience

    The REGENERATE Conference is an annual educational gathering of ranchers, farmers, government and Tribal officials, and land stewards from across the Western US and country. The conference is hosted by the American Grassfed Association, Holistic Management International, and Quivira Coalition. In 2020 the conference had to be held virtually, a new enterprise for all three organizations. However, the experience laid the groundwork for a truly unique conference experience in 2021.

    While past conferences have consisted of a single, three-day event in Albuquerque, the 2021 REGENERATE: Weaving Water, Land, and People will embody more a season of learning than a distinct event. The conference organizers and their manifold partners will host a series of in-person field days at properties across the country in September and October. Then, during the week of October 25, the REGENERATE will host a week of virtual educational workshops for land stewards. Finally, from November 3-4 at Old Town Farm in Albuquerque, NM, the conference organizers will host two days of keynote, plenary, and roundtable sessions, offering opportunities for both in-person and virtual engagement.

    2021 REGENERATE will take a holistic educational approach that is grounded in several fundamental ideas: water is life; land includes terrestrial, aquatic, and atmospheric systems and all the relationships within them; and people refers to those who regenerate our lands and food systems at varying scales and times, past, present, and future. Attendees can expect to hear from speakers like Kara Boyd, President of the Association of American Indian Farmers; Alejandro Carillo from the Las Damas Cattle Ranch; Rachel Armstrong, Founder and Executive Director of Farm Commons; Sarah Parmar, Director of Conservation for Colorado Open Lands; and Ed Roberson, Conservation Director for Palmer Land Conservancy. In addition to topics like soil health and water rights, the conference organizers intend this year to center marginalized peoples, weaving in the often isolated and ignored perspectives of those who have long practiced regenerative agriculture and land stewardship.

    Registration for the event is now open and can be found at www.quiviracoalition.org/regenerate/. In-person space is limited, and the conference format and/or requirements for attendance are subject to change pursuant to CDC and state public health guidelines.

  • Biden’s Recent Executive Order Concerning “Product of USA” and “Transparent Labelling” had Verbiage Taken Verbatim from the AGA Petition Started a Few Years Ago.

    Joe Biden’s recent executive order concerning “Product of USA” and “transparent labelling” had verbiage taken verbatim from the AGA petition started in 2018.

    For example, most grassfed beef labeled “Product of USA” is actually imported.

    This makes it hard or impossible for consumers to know where their food comes from and to choose to support American farmers and ranchers.

    Read the full executive order at http://ow.ly/SsMS50FwLOe

    We want to extend our gratitude to all who signed the petition on this important initiative to support America’s family farms.

  • AGA Not So Sure of USDA’s NACMPI Appointees

    Denver, CO — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced the appointment of 10 new members of the 15-member National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI). Though USDA claims in its release on the subject that these members “represent a diverse group distinguished by their knowledge and interest in meat and poultry safety,” the newest members, along with members already serving on the committee, fail to represent niche agriculture, nor small or very small processing plants—adding yet another insult to America’s independent family farmers, ranchers and processors across the nation. What’s more: Brazilian-owned JBS, the largest meat producer in the world whose leaders have been convicted of bribing thousands of inspectors and politicians in Brazil to allow the sale of expired and rotten meat, now has a seat at USDA’s table.

    “To give seats on this committee to company representatives of a foreign corporation that has been fraught with corruption and bribery charges is just wrong on many levels,” said Carrie Balkcom, executive director of American Grassfed Association (AGA), a national organization that provides certification, market support, education, research and advocacy on behalf of grassfed producers and supporters throughout the U.S. “The announcement of the appointees to the USDA advisory committee for meat and poultry is again a slap in the face of the farmers and ranchers that have proven time and time again that they are the backbone of American agriculture.”

    “A government that is fair, reasonable, responsible and accountable represents all producers, processors and consumers,” said Greg Gunthorp, a Midwest independent farmer and processor. “This committee should be a diverse mixture across the whole industry.”

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S., we have seen the industrial animal production system’s inability to pivot in the face of global crisis. Industrial-scale slaughterhouses swiftly emerged as coronavirus hot spots, infecting and killing workers and causing a ripple effect of harm to surrounding communities and cities throughout the U.S. Spikes in illness lead to the shutdown of processing plants, leaving store shelves empty, increased prices on meat and poultry, the killing, burial and/or composting of millions of animals . Meanwhile, April saw some of the industry’s highest exports of poultry to China. The current industrial-scale system is not built with the best interests of American consumers and independent farmers, ranchers and processors in mind, and the USDA’s latest committee appointment announcement further shows the agency’s willingness to ignore this reality.

    Small, independent, niche producers and processors were able to quickly react to the COVID-19 crisis, seamlessly providing food to their communities throughout the month when grocery store shelves remained bare. “We are the resilient portion of the U.S. food supply and an integral portion of a food and national security program going forward,” Gunthorp, an AGA board of director member and policy committee member, wrote in a recent letter shared via email with industry and AGA members. “What happened this year in our food supply should be a wake-up call that our food supply, while very efficient and productive when clicking, is very fragile. It’s in the best interest of the country to make every effort to support the resilient portion of the food supply … the domestic small processors … not the foreign, large processors.”

    This is why we need niche, small- and very small-scale producers and processors serving all USDA committees—especially NACMPI. “Local family farms and farmers stepped up to the task and, without major handouts from the government, proved that they can provide good and safe food for their neighbors and communities,” said Balkcom. “We need to have seats at this table. We need a balance of academics and practitioners at this table, and we don’t have it.”

    American Grassfed Association (AGA) is a national organization that provides certification, market support, education, research, and advocacy on behalf of grassfed producers and supporters. AGA offers independent family farms and ranches use of the first and only national grassfed certification program developed by grassfed ranchers, scientists, veterinarians, and other industry experts.

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