A new standard and certification for grass-fed dairy producers was announced at the end of last year by the American Grassfed Association. This standard will allow for more transparency concerning this term, which is rapidly gaining popularity in the American dairy sector.
“We were starting to see abuse in labeling,” George Siemon, the CEO and a founding farmer of Organic Valley, told Civil Eats. “We need a unified standard.”
The new regulations are the product of a year’s worth of collaboration amongst dairy producers like Organic Valley as well as certifiers like Pennsylvania Certified Organic and a team of scientists.
“We came up with a standard that’s good for the animals, that satisfies what consumers want and expect when they see grass-fed on the label, and that is economically feasible for farmers,” says AGA’s communications director Marilyn Noble of the new regulations.
The standard will be launched officially in February at the American Grassfed Association’s annual producer conference at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in New York State, though the exact start date for certification remains to be determined.
A draft proposal for this standard was established in April, when a number of mostly organic grass-fed dairy producers decided to promote the work of farmers producing 100 percent grass-fed dairy products.
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“Some farmers go to tremendous lengths to [produce grass-fed milk], but the marketplace is polluted,” Siemon told The Fern at the time.
In December, Organic Valley became the largest producer of organic, grass-fed dairy nation wide with 12 new dairy farmers joining its Grassmilk line.
Until this standard, there had been no certifying body establishing what grass-fed truly means when it comes to dairy.
“It’s possible that the cows that produced your milk may have roamed on grass and eaten silage, hay, and other forms of dried grass in the wintertime,” reports Civil Eats. “Or their feed may be supplemented with grain in a so-called grass-fed operation.”
The USDA’s grass-fed meat label is a separate certification spearheaded by this agency; the creation of a grass-fed dairy label was entirely driven by the industry. The governmental certifying body for dairy products is the FDA, which has not announced any similar certification at this time.
AGA has offered its own grass-fed meat certification program in the United States since 2009.
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