What certifications are available for livestock besides organic?

C.K.KentuckyAnswer: One of the first places I would begin to look for information on certifications and marketing strategies is the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center run by Iowa State University. I use this site a lot for information on value-added marketing, including certifications. Also, you might try the USDA Process Verified program. According to their website, the “USDA Process Verified Program uses the International Organization for Standardization’s ISO 9000 series standards for documented quality management systems as a format for evaluating program documentation to ensure consistent auditing practices and promote international recognition of audit results.” In other words, it is a third-party verifier of a particular production process, which a company would be able to document on a product label. Several beef ranches, coops, and firms are doing this. Information on Process Verified can be found on the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center website under Branded, Certified, Verified Beef, or at the USDA website.The Food Alliance out of Portland, Oregon, recognizes and rewards farmers who produce food in environmentally friendly and socially responsible ways through their third party certification service. According to their website, they operate “the most comprehensive third-party certification program in North America for sustainably produced food. Food Alliance Certified distinguishes foods produced by farmers, ranchers and food processors who use environmentally and socially responsible practices.” The Food Alliance is administering a grass fed certification program on behalf of the American Grassfed Association, and more information can be found at the Food Alliance website or the AGA website. Another method of “telling the consumer how you farm” that is different from third party inspections and certification is exemplified by the New York chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association’s Farmers’ Pledge. While not a certification, it can be a tool to tell people that you produce food and farm products in a sustainable, ecological way. Please visit the NOFA website to see a copy of the pledge and how farms are registered. This model could be replicated by local groups in your own state.Grass Fed LabelUnited States Standards for Livestock and Meat Marketing Claims, Grass (Forage) Fed Claim for Ruminant Livestock and the Meat Products Derived From Such Livestock, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Docket No. AMS?LS?07?0113, LS?05?09: This is a voluntary standard being adopted by the USDA with input from business, industry, and consumer groups. The Standards are available from the USDA-AMS website. Query “grass fed claim.” The details may not have been worked out yet…but my understanding is that if you want to use a USDA sanctified claim, you will have to use the USDA process verification system. It will require annual verification and the initial cost will be relatively expensive. For more information see the USDA Process Verified website.ResourcesAgricultural Marketing Resource Center

The Agricultural Marketing Resource Center is an electronic, national resource for producers interested in value-added agriculture. Browse commodities and products, investigate market and industry trends, study business creation and operation, read research results and locate value-added resources.

AGMRC ? Beef Branding and Marketing Resources

Information, links, case studies, and reports on the following topics:* Commodity Beef* Branded, Certified, Verified Beef* Natural Beef* Organic Beef * Direct Marketing Beef* Dried Beef* Marketing Beef to Latino Consumers

AGMRC ? Lamb Branding and Marketing ResourcesAGMRC ? Pork Branding and Marketing ResourcesAmerican Grassfed Association Animal Welfare Information CenterUSDA National Agricultural Library

Audit and Assessment Programs, Certification Programs, Standards and Guidelines, Food Industry Animal Welfare Policies, and International Programs.

Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Inc.PO Box 880Cobleskill, NY 12043-0880607-652-NOFA (6632)The Farmer’s Pledge The Food Alliance1829 NE Alberta Street, Ste. 5Portland, OR 97211503-493-1066