American Grassfed Association’s (AGA) board of directors has given final approval to new AGA Grassfed Dairy Standards.
The new standards, in development for more than a year, are the result of the efforts of a group of stakeholders including representatives from AGA, Organic Valley, Maple Hill Creamery, Traders Point Farm Organics, Trickling Springs Creamery, Cabriejo Creamery, Pennsylvania Certified Organic and NOFA New York.
The working group used a threepronged approach to create the new grassfed marketing claim: to ensure the healthy and humane treatment of dairy animals; to meet consumer expectations about grassfed dairy products; and to be economically feasible for small and medium-sized dairy farmers.
The AGA Grassfed Standards incorporate a forage-based diet on open pasture, animal health and welfare, no antibiotics (except for treating sick or injured animals) and no added hormones.
An entire conventional dairy herd may be converted to AGA Dairy if managed to AGA Dairy Standards for a period of one year prior to the production of milk or milk products marketed as AGA Grassfed Dairy.
Under the new standards, grain products — including corn, soy products, oats, barley, rye, rice, triticale, wheat, millet, and sorghum — are prohibited in any form, including whole, ground, cracked, flaked, silage, distilled (distiller grains) or toasted. Milk replacer is also banned.
All AGA grassfed ruminants must be provided maximum access to pasture and must optimize their dry matter intake grazed from pasture during the grazing season.
Grassfed ruminants must graze pasture throughout the entire grazing season which will not be less than 150 days per year. Grazed pasture must provide at least 60 percent of a grassfed ruminant’s dry matter intake averaged throughout the grazing season.
Grass and forage will be the feed source consumed for the lifetime of the ruminant, except for milk consumed prior to weaning. The diet will be derived solely from forage appropriate to the species comprising grass (annual and perennial), forbs (e.g., legumes, Brassicas), browse, or cereal grain crops harvested in the pre-dough stage.
AGA grassfed dairy ruminants may be fed hay, haylage, balage, silage without grain, forage products, crop residue without grain, and other approved AGA forage products and supplement feedstuffs while on pasture or as necessary when removed from pasture.
Mineral and vitamin supplements, with no grain carriers, may be provided free choice, or may be mixed into supplemental forage feed to adjust the animal’s nutrient intake and to correct deficiencies in its total diet.
Receipts, ingredient lists and/ or tear tags must be provided to the auditing/inspection agency for all supplements and for all seeds planted for on-farm forage production. A log of supplemental feedstuffs fed must be kept, including type of supplements, timing and amounts.
All livestock production methods and management must promote animal health, safety and welfare, including calf management. Producers must have a written herd health plan. Living conditions for all livestock must accommodate the health and natural behaviors of the animals.
AGA grassfed dairy ruminants must be traceable by written record throughout their entire lives, from birth to harvest. Complete and upto-date records must be maintained to identify all animals raised, purchased, sold, harvested, or used for milk production as part of the AGA Grassfed Dairy program.
Dairy ruminants one year of age or younger may be brought into the AGA Certified Grassfed Dairy program from farms/ranches of AGA members in good standing or certified organic herds by affidavit with documentation they were raised under AGA Grassfed Dairy Standards.
Dairy ruminants of any age may be brought in from AGA Certified Grassfed Dairy members in good standing or from certified organic herds.
Milk from animals brought in from certified organic herds not raised to AGA Grassfed Dairy Standards must be withheld from the AGA Grassfed dairy program for a minimum of 60 days. An entire organic dairy herd may be converted to AGA Dairy following 60 days of adherence to AGA Dairy Standards.
The AGA Dairy Standards were drafted by AGA’s certification committee. The working group sought public comment from both consumers and producers during the process.
The working group is currently developing a timeline and procedure for implementation of the new standard, with an anticipated roll-out at AGA’s annual producer conference, which is scheduled for February 8-9, 2017, at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, NY.
For more information, or to download the AGA’s Grassfed Dairy Standards, visit www.americangrassfed.org.