skip to Main Content
Third-Party Grassfed Certification More Important Than Ever

Third-Party Grassfed Certification More Important Than Ever

On January 11, the Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it had withdrawn its Grassfed Standard used in livestock and meat marketing due to lack of a clear congressional mandate to maintain it.

At A Greener World, we have long highlighted the major deficiencies in the USDA grassfed label claim (see The Grassfed Primer, page 5). For example, under this standard farmers could confine cattle on dirt feedlots for long periods outside the grass growing season, or use growth hormones and subtherapeutic antibiotics, and still market their beef under the USDA grassfed label claim–just as long as they fed the animals ‘cut grass or forage.’ Yet despite these clear limitations, we recognize the USDA grassfed standard at least provided a minimum baseline in the market.

We therefore believe the removal of the USDA grassfed standard will lead to significant confusion in the marketplace about grassfed label claims, and could allow unscrupulous operations to market meat or dairy products as “grassfed” when their production methods do not even meet the previous low requirements of the USDA standards, potentially eroding consumer trust in all grassfed label claims.

In a conference call on January 14, 2016, staff representatives from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS, the branch responsible for approving label claims) said that any grassfed label claim would still require official approval before use, and this would only be granted where “sufficient documentation” was provided that animals are fed a 100 percent forage diet from weaning onwards. However, a signed statement (affidavit) from the farmer is typically considered sufficient documentation, and there is no requirement for such label claims to be verified in any way.

While these changes at the USDA are largely procedural, this development could result in a proliferation of “grassfed” label claims that do not meet consumer expectations. In light of the USDA’s announcement, transparent third-party certifications that clearly define 100 percent grassfed production (like Certified Grassfed by AGW) become more important than ever for protecting the interests of “true” grassfed farmers and conscientious consumers alike.

Farms that are Certified Grassfed by AGW are already well placed to reassure consumers that their products really are 100 percent grassfed. Recognized by Consumers Reports as a “highly meaningful” label claim, Certified Grassfed by AGW is the only program in North America that guarantees:

  • Ruminant animals raised outdoors on pasture for their entire lives, with an entirely grass and forage diet
  • Animals raised according to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards in the U.S. and Canada
  • High-welfare handling, transport, and slaughter of animals–including an annual review of slaughter facilities

A Greener World will continue to promote Certified Grassfed by AGW farmers and their products, and maintain its position as a beacon of trust and integrity in what has likely just become an even more confusing marketplace.

Shop your way to A Greener World! Our free searchable database will help you find Certified Grassfed by AGW, Certified Non-GE by AGW, and Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW products near you!


Recent Posts

Going Non-GMO

Over the last decade, the growth in demand for non-GMO (genetically modified organism) products has…

Bovine Bloat

Bloat is over-distension of the rumen caused by the accumulation of fermentation gases in the…

Removing Livestock

Sometimes it is necessary to remove your animals from pasture for welfare reasons. AGW’s farm…


A Greener World
PO Box 115
Terrebonne, OR 97760
+1 (800) 373-8806

Follow Us

A Greener World is Global

Don't see your region yet?
Get in touch with us to see how we can work together. | +1 800 373 8806

A Greener World promotes verified farming practices and encourages food choices that deliver positive impacts for the environment, society and animals—whether farmed or wild. We advocate practical and positive solutions, centered on a range of trusted and transparent market-based certifications, to inspire people to spend their food dollars in ways that result in real change.

© Copyright 2020 A Greener World · All Rights Reserved · Privacy Policy · Registered 501(c)(3). EIN: 81-2116665

Back To Top
×Close search
We want to hear from you!

Can you take this survey to help build a greener world?

Click here to take the survey now and be entered to
win a prize!
This website uses cookies. By continuing to browse this site you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More