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Third-Party Grassfed Certification More Important Than Ever

On January 12, the Agriculture Marketing Service (AMS) of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) announced it had withdrawn its grassfed standard used in livestock and meat marketing due to lack of a clear congressional mandate to maintain it. While these changes at the USDA are largely procedural, this development could result in a proliferation of “grassfed” 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 AWA) become more important than ever for protecting the interests of “true” grassfed farmers and conscientious consumers alike.
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AWA Now Accepting 2011-2012 Good Husbandry Grant Proposals

Animal Welfare Approved is pleased to announce a call for proposals for its 2011-2012 Good Husbandry Grants. Now in its fourth year, the Good Husbandry Grants program has funded nearly one hundred projects across the country to improve farm animal welfare. Certified farmers and those who have submitted an application for AWA certification may apply for up to $5,000 towards projects such as mobile housing, breeding stock, and on-farm processing equipment. Slaughter plants working with or seeking to work with AWA farmers are also eligible for funding. The funding priorities for this year’s cycle include improved genetics, increased outdoor access, welfare improvements in the slaughter process and non-lethal predator control. A primary goal of this grant program is to facilitate the growth and success of high-welfare, pasture-based systems.
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Pasture and Climate Change: FAO sees “vast potential”

A new report by the United Nations has added credence to the view that sustainable grazing and pasture management can significantly contribute to the fight against global climate change. Entitled, "Review on Evidence on Dryland Pastoral Systems and Climate Change," this paper offers much-needed discussion about the role that pasture can play in our efforts to mitigate carbon emissions and preserve these important carbon-sequestering ecosystems. Pasturelands are under increasing pressure from development, salinization, overgrazing and transition to annual cropping for grain production (much of which goes to livestock feed). However, if properly managed they represent a carbon sink that could be even greater than forests.
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Burps Without the Blame: New report defends grassfed in climate debate

For most of human history, our relationship with cattle has been about the foods they produce: milk, meat and cheese. Today, a new bovine "product" has captured our interest and may indeed affect the future production of the others. This new product is gas. Cow burps are the most recent in the list of accused contributors to global warming from the livestock sector. However, a simple measurement of methane production does not tell the whole story. A new report by the Soil Association reevaluates greenhouse gas production in agriculture, taking into account the grazing system - not just the "end product." This controversy erupted in recent years as figures emerged about agriculture's contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. As we discussed in our November 16, 2009 blog, "Beware of Bad Science," grassfed cattle actually produce fewer emissions than those finished in feedlots, simply because of the carbon sequestration in their pasture-based systems. The new Soil Association report confirms this and adds new data to support the position.
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