Tuesday, January 27, 2015

New certification supports growing demand for grassfed meat

Animal Welfare Approved Logo

First Grassfed Label in North America to Guarantee 100% Grass and Forage Diet, Environmental Management AND High-Welfare Standards From Birth Through Slaughter--
MARION, VA (January 27, 2015)--A new food certification label is setting the standard in the U.S. when it comes to 100% grassfed meat.        
AWA Certified Grassfed is available to farms with beef cattle, meat and dairy sheep, meat and dairy goats, and bison, with individual logos for each species [hi-res versions available on request]. 

AWA's new Certified Grassfed label is the only label that guarantees food products come from animals fed a 100% grass and forage diet, raised outdoors on pasture or range for their entire lives, and managed according to the highest welfare and environmental standards in the U.S. and Canada. Although other grassfed labels exist, none has fully met consumer expectations when it comes to a grassfed and forage diet, environmental management, and farm animal welfare--until now.

As consumers wake up to the damaging impact that intensive farming is having on our health, the environment, and animal welfare, many are seeking truly sustainable alternatives--including grassfed meat. According to recent researchdemand for grassfed beef has grown by 25-30 percent every year over the last decade.

But while demand for grassfed meat is sky-rocketing, some grassfed certifications are not meeting consumer expectations--and may even permit some highly questionable practices. Under the USDA Grassfed label, for example, farmers can confine their cattle on dirt feedlots for long periods outside the growing season, or use growth hormones and subtherapeutic antibiotics, and still market the beef as grassfed--just as long as they feed the animals cut grass or forage. 

AWA's new Certified Grassfed label is the ONLY grassfed program in North America to guarantee:                
  • Ruminant animals raised outdoors on pasture for their entire lives, with an entirely grass and forage diet                 
  • Animals raised according to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards in the U.S. and Canada                      
  • High-welfare handling, transport, and slaughter of animals--including an annual review of slaughter facilities

Located near Hanna, Alberta, 10,000-acre TK Ranch was the first farm business in North America to achieve the AWA Certified Grassfed status for their beef and lamb. TK Ranch has been producing strictly grassfed and grass-finished beef for over 15 years and was already Certified AWA in 2012. However, owner Colleen Biggs was eager to make products from TK Ranch truly stand out in the marketplace. Colleen Biggs says,

"We're proud to be Canada's first ranch to achieve the AWA Certified Grassfed for our beef and lamb. There are a lot of great grassfed producers out there, but the term "grassfed" is currently not regulated in Canada and is open to some interpretation in the U.S. So unless consumers know exactly what questions to ask, they might be buying an orange when they really wanted an apple. AWA's Certified Grassfed standards and certification procedures are authentic, measurable, and transparent. This is the one grassfed label farmers, retailers, and consumers can really trust."                

AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther says, 

"No other grassfed label can match the breadth, integrity, and transparency offered by AWA's Certified Grassfed standards and certification procedures. With independent on-farm audits to ensure compliance with our practical and achievable farm standards, the AWA Certified Grassfed program provides grassfed farm businesses with the tools they need to clearly differentiate themselves in the marketplace. 

"The recent decision by Carl's Jr. to source grassfed beef highlights that this is the right time to launch a grassfed label that ticks all the right boxes. AWA grassfed farmers across the country are ready, willing, and eager to supply these exciting new markets."        

For more information about the AWA Certified Grassfed label, read our AWA Certified Grassfed FAQs or visit AnimalWelfareApproved.org/standards /awa-grassfed.

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About Animal Welfare Approved 
Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) audits, certifies and supports farmers raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. Called a "badge of honor for farmers" and the "gold standard," AWA is the most highly regarded food label in North America when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability. All AWA standards, policies and procedures are available on the AWA website, making it the most transparent certification available.

AWA's Online Directory of AWA farms, restaurants and products enables the public to search for AWA farms, restaurants and products by zip code, keywords, products and type of establishment. AWA has also launched AWA Food Labels Exposed, a free smartphone app guide to commonly used food claims and terms, available from the App Store or Google Play. A free printable version of Food Labels Exposed is also available for download at AnimalWelfareApproved.org.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

National Farm Machinery Show Feb. 11-14 in Louisville, Ky.

 For 50 years, the National Farm Machinery Show has offered the most complete selection of cutting-edge agricultural products, equipment and services available in the farming industry. Business professionals from around the world gain knowledge and hands-on access to various technological advancements.

The Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Ky., will be completely filled Feb. 11-14 with 860 exhibitors, making it the country’s largest indoor farm show. Nearly every major line of farming equipment will be on display allowing attendees to compare products side by side. The most innovative technology and new product launches are available to agribusiness professionals, as well as alternative energy information and solutions to the challenges facing today’s agribusiness industry.

In addition to seeing the newest products on the market, visitors can attend free seminars led by industry experts. Seminar topics include unmanned aerial vehicles, cloud-based data handling and weather and commodity trends. Visitors will also be able to watch Tyne Morgan and Al Pell during a live-taping of "U.S. Farm Report."

For more information, visit http://www.farmmachineryshow.org.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

USDA announces funding for beginning farmers and ranchers

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden this week announced the availability of more than $18 million in funding to help educate, mentor and enhance the sustainability of the next generation of farmers. This support is available through the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) administered by USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). 

The BFRDP awards grants to organizations implementing programs to train beginning farmers and ranchers, including workshops, educational teams, training and technical assistance throughout the United States. 

Fiscal Year 2015 applications for BFRDP are due March 13. NIFA will host a webinar for interested applicants on Wednesday, Feb. 11, from 2:00-4:00 p.m. EST. No password or advance reservation is required. A recording will be posted on the NIFA website shortly after the event. 

Funding for BFRDP program is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Additional information is available at www.nifa.usda.gov/fo/beginningfarmersandranchers.cfm

Bill would remove federal protections for wolves in 4 Western states

U.S. Rep. Reed Ribble (Wisc.) is leading the effort to remove federal court protections for wolves in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Wyoming. Co-sponsors of the bill include U.S. Reps. Collin Peterson (Minn.), Dan Benishek (Mich.) and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.). 

The legislation is in response to a ruling by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., last month that threw out an Obama administration decision to "delist" wolves in the western Great Lakes region, where the combined wolf population is estimated at around 3,700. That followed a similar decision by a different federal judge in September that stripped Wyoming of its wolf management authority and returned that state's wolves to federal protections under the Endangered Species Act. 

Ribble's bill uses a strategy that succeeded in taking wolves in Idaho and Montana off the endangered list after court challenges by environmentalists blocked those efforts. Congress took matters into its own hands in 2011 and lifted the federal protections for wolves in those two states, which then allowed hunting and trapping to resume. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

'Wild & Woolly' winter issue now available

The Winter 2015 issue of Wild & Woolly is now available. Wild & Woolly is a quarterly newsletter for sheep and goat producers and anyone else interested in small ruminants. It is published by University of Maryland Extension It provides complete coverage of the Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test.

Winter 2015 Wild & Woolly - HTML
Winter 2015 Wild & Woolly - PDF 

Winter 2015 Wild & Woolly via ISSUU

You can subscribe to the newsletter listserv to receive an e-message when a new issue of the newsletter is published.  To subscribe send an e-mail message to listserv@listserv.umd.edu. In the body of the message, write subscribe sheepand goatnews. You can also follow ISSUU to receive notification of new newsletters.

Wild & Woolly is available via mail for a cost recovery fee of $10/year. Checks payable to the University of Maryland should be send to Western Maryland Research & Education Center, 18330 Keedysivlle, MD  21756.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Organic conference in Missouri Feb. 5-7

Thinking about going organic with your goat operation? Here's the place to start!

The Missouri Organic Association’s 2015 Conference will be held February 5-7 in Springfield, Mo. Attendees will discuss and share research and experiences about organic and sustainable production.

The MOA’s mission is to provide local, organic and sustainable family farms with the tools they need to be successful farming businesses, while educating the general public about why they should support local farmers.

The conference is open to everybody — producers and consumers alike — who are concerned about independent food sources, the rising health issues in our children, supporting sustainable family farms, environmental issues and solution-based philosophies of biological and organic growing practices.

“We are definitely encouraging out-of-state attendees,” said Sue Baird, organizer and coordinator.  “Our hope is that this conference becomes one of the top regional conferences for organic and sustainable agriculture.” 

The event will include 54 workshops with varied content: grain production, livestock production, vegetable production, high-tunnel small fruits and vegetable production, sustainable living skills, culinary and medicinal plants, and more. In addition, there will be a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) Plenary — a full-day panel workshop.

Early bird registration deadline in January 25

The conference price is $175 for all 3 days and a single day pass is $75. An Early Bird Special discount is available until January 25, which includes a Buy 1 registration at full price, Get the 2nd registration at ½ price. After the Early Bird deadline of January 25, the Buy 1- Get 2nd at ½ price will disappear and all ticket prices increase by $20. 

For details about the speakers, visit www.MOAConference.org.

Hotel reservations are available at a special MOA Conference block price at The University Plaza Hotel, Springfield, MO.  Be sure to mention the MOA conference block.

What’s included in a 3 day pass?

Thursday includes your choice of 6 educational sessions, including a full informative workshop conducted by Ben Flanner of Brooklyn Grange. www.brooklyngrangefarm.com.  Thursday evening includes the MOA Expo 2015 Grand Opening as well as a “Savor the Flavor” Reception Dinner in which attendees are invited to taste the flavors of MOA Farmers, Retailers, Microbreweries and Wineries. Thursday also includes the MOA Live Benefit Auction to help fund the MOA Conference.

Friday includes choice of 6 educational sessions as well as the GMO Plenary with Robyn O’Brien and a Food Policy Workshop, including a special GMO Plenary with some of the top scientists in the field discussing the effects of GMOs and herbicide chemicals on the health of our soils, plants, livestock and human health.  Featured on Friday is a full day pastured hog production workshop.

Friday Evening attendees will enjoy the MOA Cochon15 & MOA Top Chef Challenge, featuring St. Louis Chef Josh Galliano of The Libertine and Springfield Chef Wes Johnson of the Metropolitan Farmer butchering pasture based hogs with a live auction of the pork products with the proceeds going to MOA and “Feed My Peeps”, a non-profit organization formed to feed the hungry in St. Louis. The MOA Top Chef Challenge 2015 will feature Tops Chefs from the four cities of Missouri:  Columbia — Walker Claridge of Broadway Brewery; St. Louis — Chef Rex Hale of 360 St. Louis, Chef Wil Pelly of In Good Company & Sanctuaria and Chef Jen Ryan of Gateway Garlic Urban Farm; Kansas City — Michael Foust of The Farmhouse; and Springfield — Chef Paul Trout of Chateau on the Lake. This event has generated great interest in the past from both the top chefs who are competing for the title and from the participants who get to taste the foods and judge the final MOA Top Chef 2015! 

Friday evening includes a Banquet Dinner of local organic and sustainably produced foods. Following dinner, attendees may choose between a screening of GMO OMG, or Live Music and Dancing with Dallas Jones. 

Saturday includes your choice of 6 educational sessions including one on “From Sheep to Shawl — Wool Sheep & German Angora Rabbits — Producing, Shearing, Spinning Demo” —  Vickie Eberhart.  Our Saturday Brunch features keynote speaker Joseph Simcox, “The Botanical Explorer” of Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds who will be challenging us to save our local foods by saving and planting native heirloom seeds and working together to develop local food systems.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases announces new undergraduate summer internship program

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases (IIAD), a Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Center of Excellence, announced today a new summer internship program for undergraduate students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Undergraduate students with junior and senior classifications are encouraged to apply to the program. Selected interns will be matched with IIAD scientist mentors for a paid 10-week summer internship and will gain hands-on experience related to the prevention, detection, control and mitigation of high-consequence transboundary animal diseases.

To be eligible, students must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen;
  • Maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale;
  • Submit a completed application no later than Feb. 16, 2015;
  • Be of full-time student status at the time of the internship;
  • Maintain valid health insurance during the course of the internship.

If selected for the internship, students are required to:
  • Attend a webinar orientation in April;
  • Be willing to relocate, if necessary, to the site of the internship for the duration of the 10-week appointment (relocation and travel costs will not be covered);
  • Create and submit a laboratory safety plan, with the assistance of the internship mentor;
  • Complete a 10-week internship with an IIAD scientist;
  • Conduct a research briefing at the internship site;
  • Maintain a weekly training log;
  • Submit a 10-page summary report;
  • Complete and submit all required forms.

For more information and to find an application, click here. All applications must be submitted to iiad@ag.tamu.edu by 5 p.m. (CST) on Feb. 16, 2015.

Headquartered in College Station, Texas, IIAD was founded in 2004 as a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Center of Excellence. The Institute focuses on research, education and outreach to prevent, detect, mitigate and recover from transboundary, emerging and/or zoonotic diseases, which may be introduced intentionally or through natural processes. In 2014, IIAD was recognized by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as a Collaborating Centre in the specialty of biological threat reduction. IIAD is the only centre of this kind in OIE’s America’s region and the only OIE Collaborating Centre within the Texas A&M University System. For more information, visit iiad.tamu.edu.