The USDA’s New Grassfed Label is Weak

The USDA with a lot of fanfare issued standards last week on what can be called “grassfed”. Some trumpeted the announcement, others condemned it, including the American Grassfed Association. I think their reasoning is sound (I am a member of said organization) because it’s based on what the customer expects. The standard given by the USDA is that cattle be given “access to pasture”. Well that is the same standard they use in the “organic” standard. And customers expect that beef or milk or lamb or poultry that is labeled “grassfed” is raised on pasture with no growth hormones or fed a diet of antibiotics.

In this article, Andy Bellatti does a good job showing how the corporate “farms” get around standards like this. I believe more and more people though are wanting to know where their food comes from. He says:

“Under the current organic guidelines by the United States Department of Agriculture, milk can be labeled ‘organic’ if the cows that produce it have “access to pasture.”

Technically, the cows do not have to eat said pasture. So, a huge farm could potentially fatten up all its cows on corn and grains but let them spend an hour a day outside and legally label their milk as “organic.””

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