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Gras-fed Certification

Organic Valley, Maple Hill launch certified grass-fed organic livestock program

Organic Valley and Maple Hill launched a third-party certification standard for grass-fed products—one of the fast-growing categories in dairy. The standards are rigorous: only certified organic farms can participate and cows “must have a 100 percent grass diet with zero grains,” in addition to passing a full supply chain verification.

The Certified Grass-Fed Organic Livestock Program™ and Certification Mark is administered by the Organic Plus Trust Inc. (OPT) and creates a universal definition and verification of grass-fed organic farming standards and products, which is voluntary and open to all. The inaugural products including the Certified Grass-Fed Organic Livestock Program official seal will debut at Natural Products Expo West March 5-9 in Anaheim, California.

The certification is an attempt to weed out “greenwashing” companies from those genuinely adhering to strict eco-friendly and organic standards and brings consistency and transparency to grass-fed organic dairy standards for farmers, processors, manufacturers, certification bodies, retailers and consumers. The program currently includes more than 320 certified farms, 15 certified dairy processors, 15 certifiers and an expected 48 different dairy products. Consumers can expect to see the official seal in stores in 2019.

To be certified under the new OPT standard, dairy cows must be fed a grass diet, with zero-grain, and given plenty of pasture for grazing. The enhanced certification criteria requires all animals receive 60 percent of their dry matter intake from pasture over at least a 150-day grazing season (as opposed to 30 percent and 120 days per the National Organic Program standards).

The certification is unique from other grass-fed certifications in that it also requires a full supply chain verification to use the certification mark, creating a much higher level of transparency. The farm and dairy processor are certified to ensure grass-fed milk is segregated and authentic all the way to the consumer dairy product.

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