We received today a news release from a grass-fed beef operation, announcing that the operation is the first to receive “Grass Fed” certification from the USDA.
Here at Drovers we have long supported the efforts of beef producers to differentiate themselves with production practices and products that meet consumer demand. If producers have opportunities to improve returns by addressing demand in niche or specialty markets such as grass-fed, natural or organic, we believe they should do so. Several have, with great success, and they achieved that success by promoting their products as alternatives for consumers who prefer beef from cattle raised using a specific set of production practices. That’s great.
Occasionally though, some of these operators apparently decide the way to promote their businesses is to degrade those of their colleagues and neighbors, while raising doubts in consumers’ minds about conventionally produced beef.
The news release begins innocently enough, outlining how USDA certification assures consumers the operation adheres to specific standards for grass-fed beef. But toward the end, it increasingly attacks conventional grain-fed beef and the ranchers and cattle feeders who produce it.
“Industrial grain-based feedlot operations foul the environment, expose cattle to inhumane conditions, require intensive consumption of fossil fuels and produce higher levels of environmental pollutants,” the release states. “Sustainable ranching management and practices on (deleted) ranch help keep cattle, air, land, and water healthy.”
American beef producers face plenty of challenges from radical animal-rights activists and environmental extremists trying to destroy their livelihoods. They hardly need to hear the same attacks from fellow producers trying to promote their product.
Following is the full release, in its original wording, except we have deleted references to the company’s name. Our goal is not to engage in personal attacks, but instead, to encourage stakeholders across the industry to portray U.S. beef and the beef production system in positive terms.
(Company) First to Receive Rigorous USDA “Grass Fed” Certification
First Ever Certification Sets Higher and Healthier Standards for the Beef Industry and Boosts Consumer Confidence
(Company), the leader in the grass fed beef industry, selling exclusively from its Montana ranch direct to consumers, announced today that the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) has named it the first beef producer in America to meet its rigorous “Grass Fed Beef” standard. The first certification of its kind, the move promotes higher and healthier standards for the beef industry, and gives consumers a reason to be confident in the grass fed beef they are buying and consuming.
“By achieving the new USDA certification, we are meeting the standard for grass fed beef, and we continue to set the bar,” said (the company’s owner). “From this day forward, consumers can purchase our grass fed beef with complete confidence.”
To achieve the certification, (Company) upheld its status as a pioneer in the industry by successfully enduring a rigorous auditing process by third-party, Verified Beef. The process included reviewing all ranching practices, its structure and management, training of employees, the inspection of all feeds, records and labels and the administration of all foods and drugs. The audit confirms (Company) cattle to be truly 100 percent grass fed, never exposed to antibiotics, animal by-products or growth promotants, never treated with hormones, and source and age verified. It is only with source and age verification that consumers can be assured that they know