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Grassfed’s Role In A Greener World: AGW’s Response to the University of Oxford study, Grazed and Confused?

Grazed and Confused?—the new report from the University of Oxford’s Food Climate Research Network—represents an important step forward in advancing our scientific knowledge on how we might feed ourselves sustainably.

Written by a number of eminent scientists involved in exploring sustainable food production, the report seeks to address a specific—but vital—question in the sustainable food debate: What is the role of grazing ruminants in contributing to or mitigating climate change?

It is therefore extremely disappointing to see this important report being widely misrepresented in the media and misused by those who are calling for an end to food animal production, or to discredit grassfed or pasture-based livestock operations in favor of other species or production models.

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AGW Responds to U.S. Decision to Import Irish Grassfed Beef

The United States Department of Agriculture has recently approved imports of Irish beef making grassfed claims based on criteria including “More than 80% grass diet” and “Pasture for more than 6/7/8 months per year.” In response, A Greener World–North America’s leading sustainability certifier–is asking U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to consider the impact of this decision on the fledgling U.S. grassfed market and to ensure transparency for farmers and consumers.

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We’re Staying In

  From the perspective of a farming-based program driven by sound science, President Trump’s announcement yesterday to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate change agreement is calamitous, and flies directly in the face of scientific consensus and humanity itself.…

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What is Better Meat?

 

Let’s face facts: America has a very deep-seated meat culture—and that’s not going to change any time soon. Despite the efforts of some food advocates to persuade people to stop eating meat, U.S. per capita meat consumption rose by a whopping 5 percent in 2015—the largest increase in over 40 years.

As an organization promoting high-welfare, sustainable food animal production—and working directly with thousands of livestock farmers and ranchers—this represents a real challenge. It’s now widely accepted that if we continue to consume such unsustainable levels of industrial meat, dairy and eggs, we’re all in big trouble. We urgently need to change what we eat and how it’s produced.

Over recent years, some food advocate groups have sought to find a ‘silver bullet’ solution that consumers can easily buy into, which will bring about the wholesale reform of industrial food animal production we so urgently need. While these efforts have resulted in some good (and some not so good) ideas, the food industry has always been sharper and far more effective at getting their message across to the consumer.

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Not All Beef Is Bad

 

In our ‘post-fact’ world, it seems some advocate groups are more concerned about easy messages and generating media headlines than telling the whole story. The NRDC’s “Less Beef, Less Carbon” report is just the latest in a long list of publications, blogs and articles to erroneously tar all beef with the same brush. The failure to clarify that beef’s climate challenges are associated with specific sectors of beef production wilfully ignores the environmental contribution of high-welfare, pasture-based beef producers—arguably our best hope for sustainable protein on an increasingly resource-challenged planet.

The message from the NRDC is loud and clear—and, unfortunately, patently false: ‘Beef is bad for climate change.’ The truth? When it comes to greenhouse emissions, pasture-based and confinement beef systems are far from equal. Sadly, this isn’t the first time the NRDC have wrongly railed against all beef.

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Big Ag’s Gifts for 2016

 

As many of you know, it’s a tradition of ours to look back over the last 12 months at the many “gifts” Big Ag has bestowed upon us. In most case, they’re gifts we’d probably all like to return… Here’s our top 5 for 2016.

#5 – Big Ag Gets… Bigger

After months of speculation, German-based chemical giant Bayer bought up Monsanto for a cool $56.5 billion. The move follows similar consolidations in the agribusiness sector—including the merger of the U.S. agrichemical giants, Dow and DuPont, in late 2015. If the Bayer-Monsanto deal is approved by regulators, the combined company would be the world’s largest suppliers of seeds and agrichemicals, which raises major issues.

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Our Commitment

In the day after the conclusion of what has been an incredibly divisive election season, we at AGW want to take this opportunity to celebrate the values we share in common, and reaffirm our commitment to our farmers and supporters. Regardless of your stance on the final outcome of the U.S. election, through our programmatic work and family of certifications, AGW has been—and will continue to be—the following:

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Think a Diet Without Animal Protein Will Save the World? Six answers that might make you think…

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the environmental and animal welfare impacts of animal agriculture. First we were told to avoid processed meat; then we learned beef was the new villain; and now ALL meat is being vilified as bad for human health, animal welfare and the planet.

But is meat’s bad rap really deserved? While it’s great to see more people talking about the impact of our diets on the planet and animal welfare, encouraging the world to go meat-free misses the point entirely. Here’s why:

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Farm Health Online: The Right Tool for the Job

At A Greener World, we’re always looking for positive solutions to help fix our food system, as well as ways to give farmers and ranchers the practical support and guidance they need to transition towards sustainable, pasture-based livestock production. Well, we have some exciting news to announce…

Farm Health Online is a powerful new website, offering free and immediate access to practical, science-based advice on positive livestock management and sustainable farming practices for cattle, sheep, poultry, and pigs, with comprehensive information on over 100 common livestock diseases, best practices on nutrition, housing, breeding and husbandry—and much more!

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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.

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