Tag Archive for: Labelling

New Label Soon for Grass-Fed Milk and Yogurt

Author: Dr. Mercola

The secret is out: grass-fed dairy products are not only rich, creamy and reminiscent of the way dairy products used to be, but they’re also better for your health, the environment and the cows providing the milk.

As a result, demand for grass-fed dairy products is growing at an impressive rate. Organic, grass-fed yogurt, for instance, is experiencing 82 percent dollar growth, which is more than three times the growth of yogurt that does not contain the grass-fed label, according to Organic Valley dairy.1

Their “Grassmilk” brand is the top-selling grass-fed dairy brand in the U.S., and it’s had double-digit growth since its 2012 debut. Organic Valley stated that their Grassmilk goes beyond the pasturing standards for ruminants required by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Program.

To be clear, there’s a lot of confusion about the term “grass-fed,” and in many cases, it’s an abused term like the word “natural.” Organic Valley and other U.S. grass-fed dairy producers are teaming up to change this, and the first steps have been laid for a new industry-wide grass-fed label for dairy.

New Industry Standard for Grass-Fed Labeling

The American Grassfed Association (AGA) hosted a stakeholder meeting to start the ball rolling on a new industry-wide grass-fed dairy standard. AGA explained:2

“Rapid growth of the grassfed dairy segment and the consequent proliferation of grass- and pasture-based claims pose a challenge for producers, retailers, and consumers in the dairy industry.

AGA convened the meeting to discuss mutual concerns about practices, standards, protection of legitimate claims, and avoidance of consumer confusion about grass-based products.”

The goals of the meeting included determining potential for agreement for standards for grass-fed dairy products, assessing options for protecting the integrity of grass-based dairy products and establishing a unified standard and market integrity. According to AGA, discussions centered on he following:

  • Animal health and nutrition
  • Transparency of practices and claims
  • Holistic land and soil management
  • Support and validation for producers
  • Building a certified organic standard while providing a bridge with non-organic grass-fed claims

Don Davis, chair of AGA’s standards and certification committee, stated:

“We feel this meeting was an important first step to develop a clear and definable industry standard that will encourage producers to develop grassfed dairy programs and also to provide assurance to consumers when they see the term “grassfed” on a carton of milk or other dairy products.”

USDA Revoked Their Grass-Fed Standard in January 2016

In 2007, the USDA released voluntary standards for a grass-fed claim on meat. It suggested grass-fed animals eat nothing but grass and stored grasses, and have access to pasture during the growing season.

The standards were far from perfect; for instance, they allowed animals to be confined for certain periods of time and did not restrict the use of antibiotics and hormones in the animals.

Nonetheless, many viewed it as a step in the right direction that would provide increased transparency into how meat is raised and allow consumers to make more informed choices when buying their food.

In January 2016, however, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service announced that it withdrew the grass-fed standard, citing a lack of authority to define the claim. Those using the USDA’s grass-fed standard were given 30 days to convert it to a private grass-fed standard or develop a new grass-fed standard.

Is More Confusion Coming to Grass-Fed Meat Packaging?

Ferd Hoefner, policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), is among those who believe the withdrawal will only add more confusion to food labeling. He stated in a NSAC press release:3

“Rather than bringing consistency and common sense to our food marketing system, USDA seems to be throwing in the towel … This is terrible public policy that will create a multitude of non-uniform labels, which will open the door to more confusion and subterfuge in the marketplace.

It is an affront to consumers, who have the right to know how their food is raised, and to the farmers whose innovation and hard work created the trusted grass fed label standard.

NSAC and our member organizations believe this reversal is a detriment to a fair and transparent food system and we urge the USDA to come up with an alternative solution quickly.”


Will Allen & Michael Colby: Vermont’s GMO addiction – with or without a label

Authors: Will Allen and Michael Colby

Vermont has proven itself to be a leader when it comes to showing its concern over the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture and food production. It was the first state in the nation to pass GMO-labeling legislation, forcing food corporations nationwide to scramble and prepare to meet the law’s requirements when it takes effect in July 2016. But, in many ways, the passage of this historic law has left a false impression that it “solved” the GMO problem in the state. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Vermont agriculture is dominated by GMOs, especially within the commodity dairy sector, which represents more than 70 percent of the state agricultural economy. Currently, there are more than 92,000 acres of GMO feed corn that are grown in Vermont, making it – by far – the state’s number one crop. More than 96 percent of all feed corn grown in Vermont is a GMO variety, and almost all of this GMO corn is used to feed dairy cows.

Ironically, Vermont’s GMO addiction is exempt from its own GMO labeling law, as the law specifically exempts dairy and meat products. So while the law will force mainstream food corporations to label GMOs in products like Cheetos and SpaghettiOs before coming into the state, it turns a blind eye to the GMO-derived dairy that is the primary ingredient in, for example, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and Cabot’s cheddar cheese.

This is about more than the consumer’s right to know. It’s also about the impact GMO-centered agriculture is having on Vermont’s environment and wildlife, its role in the continued monopolization of the food supply, and the roadblocks it creates in the path toward a truly regenerative, eco-sensitive, and socially just form of agriculture in the state. The current domination of GMOs and industrial agriculture in Vermont dairy is, quite frankly, the elephant on the farm that few want to acknowledge.

The history of Vermont’s heavy adoption of industrial – or degenerative – forms of agriculture is also the history of its failure and decline. At every stage, beginning with chemical agriculture in the post-WWII era, the new techniques being promoted by the increasingly corporate and industrial agriculture came with mighty promises: Labor would be saved, yields would be increase, bugs and insects would be eliminated, and profits would soar. Just get in line, and follow the edicts coming out of the USDA and the agricultural extension centers.