Grassfed

As defined by the USDA, “grassfed” signifies that a ruminant raised for meat was given a lifetime diet of 100 percent grass and forage, including legumes and cereal grain crops, after weaning. The “grassfed” claim is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as applying to meat from ruminant animals, including cows, sheep, goat and bison. Although USDA verification is voluntary, animals under the USDA claim are expected to have access to pasture during most the growing season and to be fed stored grasses (hay or grass silage) during the winter months or drought conditions. Grassfed animals cannot receive grain, grain products, or animal by-products, which can diminish the nutritive benefits of grass feeding. The USDA standard does not severely restrict the use of antibiotics and hormones, which are covered under separate standards. Hence, feedlot cattle could be fed harvested forage and supplements, antibiotics and synthetic hormones and still bear the USDA grassfed labels. Consumers seeking truly grassfed meat should source American Grassfed Association (AGA) certified products. The AGA certified program is recognized by the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service and verifies a 100 percent forage diet, raised on pasture that has a minimum of 75 percent cover, no confinement, no antibiotics and no added hormones. AGA has an independent third party certification program available to ranchers. (AWA/CU)