American Grassfed Certification Now Assures the Highest High quality for Beef and Dairy Merchandise

By Dr. Mercola

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You are in all probability conscious that the meals business has the facility to affect your consuming habits by way of using promoting and lobbying for business-pleasant laws. However do you know the U.S. authorities truly funds a few of these actions via the gathering and distribution of taxes on sure meals?

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And that by doing so, the federal government is actively supporting agricultural methods which are opposed to public and environmental well being, and discouraging the adoption of more healthy and extra ecologically sound farming methods?

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The meat business particularly seems to be rife with corruption aimed toward defending massive manufacturing unit-type enterprise moderately than the up-and-coming grass-fed business. As defined in Washington Month-to-month:1

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“Think about if the federal authorities mandated that a portion of all federal fuel taxes go on to the oil business’s commerce affiliation, the American Petroleum Institute [API].

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Think about additional that API used this public cash to finance advert campaigns encouraging individuals to drive extra and switch up their thermostats, all whereas lobbying to discredit oil business critics … That is a deal not even Exxon might pull off, but the nation’s largest meat-packers now take pleasure in one thing fairly prefer it

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[W]hen you purchase a Huge Mac or a T-bone, a portion of the price is a tax on beef, the proceeds from which the federal government arms over to a personal commerce group referred to as the Nationwide Cattlemen’s Beef Affiliation [NCBA].

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The NCBA in flip makes use of this public cash to purchase advertisements encouraging you to eat extra beef, whereas additionally lobbying to derail animal rights and different agricultural reform activists, defeat meat labeling necessities and defend the continued consolidation of the business.”

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Federal Tax Helps Beef Business Promote Beef

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In a nutshell, the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) beef checkoff program2 is a compulsory program that requires cattle producers to pay a $1 charge per head of cattle bought.

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It is principally a federal tax on cattle, however the cash does not go to the federal government however to state beef councils, the nationwide Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and the NCBA. All of those organizations are clearly biased towards the concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) mannequin.

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The cash is collected by state beef councils, which hold half and ship the opposite half of the funds to the nationwide CBB, headquartered in Colorado, which is in command of the nationwide beef promotion marketing campaign. Nationwide, the meat checkoff charges add as much as about $eighty million yearly.

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As the first contractor for the checkoff program, the NCBA receives a majority of the checkoff proceeds, which is used for analysis and promotion of beef.

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However whereas the meat checkoff program started with the most effective of intentions, aiming to assist struggling ranchers by pooling their cash to pay for the promotion of beef, discontent over how the cash is getting used has grown through the years.

Checkoff Program No Longer Advantages Small Ranchers — It Harms Them

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Many cattle ranchers really feel they’re being pressured to pay for actions that go towards their environmental or moral views on animal welfare and environmental stewardship, for instance.

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Furthermore, whereas being a federal tax, the federal government has nearly no oversight over how this checkoff cash is used. As reported by Harvest Public Media:three

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“Checkoff officers say … each greenback collected by the checkoff delivers $eleven.20 in return. Amongst its successes is a collection of iconic commercials referred to as ‘Beef, it is what’s for dinner.’

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However there’s much more to the meat checkoff than meets the attention. That $1 evaluation, critics … say, flows with restricted oversight to state and nationwide pursuits.

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Sellers should pay even when they do not consider they’ve any say over who will get the cash, or why. They usually should pay even when they consider the fund advances the pursuits of multi-millionaire ranchers towards their very own …

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As many as a fourth of the nation’s 730,000 ranchers … have complained for years that the checkoff has grow to be a billion-greenback bonanza for giant ranchers, business executives and big beef packers. Federal statistics present bigger extra environment friendly cattle operations are forcing out smaller ranchers and feedlots.”

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One working example: When a commerce grievance was filed towards Mexico in 2014, NCBA opposed anti-belief enforcement towards the three multinational firms that management greater than eighty % of the meat packing business.

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The NCBA additionally helps the North American Free Commerce Settlement (NAFTA), which permits for low-value beef imports, thereby undercutting American ranchers.four

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What’s Good for Giant Meatpackers Typically Hurts Small Ranchers

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Additionally, because the $1 per head charge is remitted by federal regulation, checkoff funds are usually not allowed for use for lobbying or political contributions. Nevertheless, critics have argued that each state beef councils and the nationwide beef board have robust ties to beef business lobbying teams — a few of them even share workplace area.5

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On the nationwide degree, a majority of the checkoff cash will get funneled into the NCBA, which has a robust political voice within the Washington D.C., the place it has spent hundreds of thousands in marketing campaign contributions and lobbying efforts. In line with Harvest Public Media:6

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“Within the 2014 mid-time period elections alone, the NCBA gave almost $800,000 to primarily Republican political candidates … That quantities to greater than ninety eight % of complete checkoff income and eighty two % of NCBA’s complete price range, in accordance with a current lawsuit filed by small producers …

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That very same lawsuit claims that the NCBA controls half the seats on the meat checkoff’s contracting committee. ‘I feel it’s a damaged system,’ stated Wil Bledsoe, president of the Colorado Unbiased CattleGrowers Affiliation …

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‘I do not need them utilizing my cash to struggle my livelihood like they’ve been,’ he stated. ‘What’s good for packers is not often good for the little man, and vice versa. So how can they declare to symbolize each?’

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… And authorities screens overseeing this system are conscious of the issues, stated one former U.S. Division of Agriculture official.

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‘The administration is properly conscious that the NCBA has misappropriated producer cash and the NCBA has helped defeat coverage reforms that may have helped small producers,’ stated Dudley Butler, who resigned as a prime USDA official in 2012. Butler, a lawyer, says the checkoff is nothing greater than an ‘unlawful cattle tax.'”

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The Livestock Advertising Affiliation (LMA) has been calling for the USDA to carry a referendum on the attainable termination of the meat checkoff, and greater than 146,000 cattle ranchers have signed the petition.7

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In 2011, the nationwide checkoff program for pork was terminated by a nationwide referendum, however the USDA declined doing the identical for beef, saying it might not think about a referendum on the meat checkoff anytime quickly.eight Nonetheless to today the struggle to terminate this system continues.

Beef Council Accountant Investigated for Embezzlement

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Misuse of checkoff funds just isn’t the one drawback ranchers are railing towards. Federal authorities at the moment are investigating embezzlement expenses towards Melissa Morton, a former Oklahoma Beef Council accounting and compliance supervisor.9

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In accordance with the council’s personal inner investigation, Morton (who was promptly fired), stole $2.6 million in beef checkoff funds between 2009 and 2016.

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As reported by the Cornucopia Institute:10 “In 2014, in line with the council’s newest federal tax data, the group took in $three.6 million in income. That very same yr the compliance supervisor allegedly embezzled $316,231, almost 9 % of the state beef council‘s annual income.”

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In 2016, Morton allegedly cast 131 checks totaling almost $557,790. In accordance with Mike Callicrate, a cattleman and founding member of the Group for Aggressive Markets (OCM), information of the embezzlement added to “the suspicion that … our greenbacks usually are not being utilized in a approach that really advantages the cowboy that is paying the meat checkoff.”

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Embezzlement apart, critics have additionally identified the exorbitant salaries collected by NCBA administration — salaries paid for by checkoff dollars collected from ranchers. In a 2015 article, California cattleman Lee Pitts wrote:eleven

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“… [T]he final information I used to be aware about concerning the wage of NCBA’s CEO, Forrest Roberts, was from his 2013 federal tax types when he was paid $428,319. That is extravagant sufficient however in line with a Cattleman’s Beef Board huge wig who referred to as me, Mr. Roberts is now allegedly making $550,000 per yr!

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… I would not have an issue if Mr. Roberts was being paid with NCBA dues cash, that is their cash and allow them to spend it how they need. However in response to my supply, seventy two % of Robert’s wage is paid by the meat checkoff as a result of that is how a lot time the NCBA says he spends on checkoff issues. seventy two %!

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The NCBA positive could not pay that type of a wage in the event that they needed to stay off dues, now might they? … In line with one supply, there are at the least 10 individuals working for the checkoff who’re making greater than $290,000 per yr! NCBA paid out $thirteen million in yearly salaries and eighty two % of NCBA’s finances comes out of your checkoff dollars.”

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Checkoff Funds Used to Promote Worldwide Beef

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Final yr, the Ranchers-Cattlemen Motion Authorized Fund, United Stockgrowers of America (R-CALF USA) filed a lawsuit towards the USDA, claiming the meat checkoff tax is “being unconstitutionally used to advertise worldwide beef, to the detriment of U.S. beef merchandise and producers.”12 In response to R-CALF USA CEO Invoice Bullard:

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“The Checkoff’s implied message that each one beef is equal, no matter the place the cattle are born or how they’re raised, harms U.S. farmers and ranchers and deceives U.S. residents. Regardless of what we all know to be clear proof concerning the top quality of beef raised by unbiased U.S. cattlemen, we’re being taxed to advertise a message that beef raised with out the strict requirements utilized by our members is identical as all different beef, a message we don’t help and don’t agree with.”

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R-CALF USA’s co-counsel J. Dudley Butler of the Butler Farm & Ranch Regulation Group PLLC, added: “This isn’t solely a battle to guard constitutional rights however a battle to make sure that our meals provide just isn’t corralled and constrained by multi-nationwide firms leaving unbiased farmers and ranchers as mere serfs on their very own land.”

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The lawsuit was filed in response to Montana Beef Council’s advert marketing campaign for Wendy’s — a quick meals chain whose hamburgers can include meat originating in forty one totally different nations. The NCBA additionally has a historical past of selling beef, no matter origin, which is a big detriment to the ranchers paying the checkoff charges that pay for all this promoting and advertising.

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The NCBA promotes the concept “beef is beef, whether or not the cattle have been born in Montana, Manitoba or Mazatlán” and, becoming a member of forces with commerce teams representing each nationwide and worldwide meat-packers, the NCBA additionally fought towards the USDA’s implementation of nation-of-origin labeling (COOL), and has been tireless in its opposition towards demand for greater requirements within the remedy of animals.

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Pitts’ article additionally factors out that NCBA’s CEO has clear conflicts of curiosity that shade the group’s stance on issues like using veterinary medicine. Previous to turning into the CEO of NCBA, Roberts held advertising and gross sales positions with Upjohn Animal Well being (which merged with Pharmacia Animal Well being and later Pfizer Animal Well being) and Elanco Animal Well being’s beef enterprise unit.

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“Gee, do you assume he is perhaps a bit prejudiced relating to antibiotics, hormones and pure versus chemically produced beef?” Pitts writes.thirteen

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Nice Information: New Grassfed Dairy Normal Launched!

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Thankfully, you needn’t fear as there’s a new rising various certification that may bypass most of this nonsense. The American Grassfed Affiliation (AGA) just lately launched a lot-wanted grassfed requirements and certification for American-grown grassfed dairy,14 which can permit for higher transparency and conformity.

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Previous to this certification, dairy might be bought as “grassfed” whether or not the cows ate solely grass, or acquired silage, hay and even grains throughout sure occasions. As reported by Natural Authority:15

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“The brand new laws are the product of a yr’s value of collaboration amongst dairy producers like Natural Valley in addition to certifiers like Pennsylvania Licensed Natural and a group of scientists. ‘We got here up with a normal that is good for the animals, that satisfies what shoppers need and anticipate once they see grass-ate up the label, and that’s economically possible for farmers,’ says AGA’s communications director Marilyn Noble of the brand new laws.

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The usual shall be launched formally in February on the American Grassfed Affiliation’s annual producer convention on the Stone Barns Middle for Meals and Agriculture in New York State, although the precise begin date for certification stays to be decided.”

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Contemplating how essential a cow’s weight-reduction plan is on the subject of the standard of its milk, particularly once we’re speaking about RAW milk, I might strongly advise you to make sure your uncooked dairy is AGA licensed as grassfed (as soon as the certification turns into formally out there).

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USDA Grassfed Beef Label Rescinded

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Additionally be sure you search for the AGA’s grassfed label when shopping for grassfed meats, as in January 2016, the USDA’s Agricultural Advertising Service (AMS) rescinded its official requirements for the grassfed beef declare.sixteen In line with the AMS, a assessment of its authority discovered the company doesn’t have the authority to develop and keep advertising requirements, therefore it needed to remove its definition of “grassfed.”

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The USDA’s Meals Security and Inspection Service (FSIS), which approves meat labels typically, nonetheless approves grassfed label claims. Nevertheless, producers of grassfed meats are free to outline their very own requirements. Based on the AGA, “FSIS is just contemplating the feeding protocol of their label approvals — different points reminiscent of confinement; use of antibiotics and hormones; and the supply of the animals, meat and dairy merchandise will probably be left as much as the producer.”

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In different phrases, a producer of “grassfed beef” might theoretically confine the animals and feed them antibiotics and hormones and nonetheless put a grassfed label on the meat so long as the animals have been additionally fed grass. As famous by the AGA on the time:17

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“The unlucky factor for producers who’ve labored onerous to construct high quality grassfed packages is that, with no widespread requirements in place, they are going to be competing within the market with the economic meatpackers who can co-choose the grassfed label.

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As soon as once more, shoppers lose out on transparency and an understanding of what they’re shopping for. Grassfed has all the time been a supply of some confusion, however not, with no widespread requirements underpinning it, shoppers will discover it more and more troublesome to belief the grassfed label.

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Like different principally meaningless label phrases like pure, cage-free and free-vary, grassfed will develop into simply one other really feel-good advertising ploy utilized by the main meatpackers to dupe shoppers into shopping for mass-produced, grain-fed feedlot meat.”

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When Shopping for Grassfed Meat, Search for the AGA Grassfed Label

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On the upside, the AGA grassfed requirements are extra complete and extra stringent than the AMS requirements have been. So, to make sure you’re truly getting excessive-high quality grassfed beef, make sure you search for the AGA grassfed label in your beef in addition to your dairy. No different grassfed certification gives the identical complete assurances because the AGA’s grassfed label, and no different grassfed program ensures compliance utilizing third-social gathering audits.

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Alternatively, get to know your native farmer and discover out first-hand how he raises his cattle. Many are very happy to offer you a tour and clarify the small print of their operation. Barring such face-to-face communication, the AGA grassfed emblem is the one one capable of assure that the meat comes from animals that:

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  • Have been fed a one hundred pc forage eating regimen
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  • Have by no means been confined in a feedlot
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  • Have by no means acquired antibiotics or hormones
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  • Have been born and raised on American household farms (a overwhelming majority of the grassfed meats bought in grocery shops are imported, and with out COOL labeling, there isn’t any telling the place it got here from or what requirements have been adopted)
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