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New grassfed certification is most meaningful yet for coveted farming niche

Demand for grass-fed beef is sky-rocketing. Over the past 10 years, growing public awareness of the real costs of intensive livestock farming has sparked a resurgence of interest in pasture-raised, grass-fed meat.

Research has shown not only that true grass-fed systems improve the health and welfare of farm animals, but also that grass-fed systems are less likely to cause environmental pollution and can play a role in helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through carbon sequestration. Grass-fed meat offers real human health benefits in terms of higher levels of omega-3s, CLAs and vitamin E, as well as reductions in the risk of E. coli infection. 

While year-over-year sales increases (25-30 percent every year over the past decade) show consumers are seeking out grass-fed meat, not all grass-fed certifications meet consumer expectations — and some continue to permit questionable practices. Under the USDA Grass-fed label, for example, farmers can confine their cattle on dirt feedlots for long periods outside the growing season. They also can use growth hormones and subtherapeutic antibiotics and still market the beef as grass-fed as long as they feed the animals cut grass or forage.

Acknowledged by Consumer Reports as the only “highly meaningful” food label for farm animal welfare, outdoor access and sustainability, Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) certifies the meat comes from independent farmers who raise animals outdoors on pasture and employ the highest welfare standards. AWA recently launched Certified Grassfed by AWA, an optional additional accreditation for AWA farmers and ranchers to certify they are also raising animals according to a grass-fed feeding protocol.

Certified Grassfed by AWA is the only grass-fed label claim in the United States and Canada that requires farms to provide their animals with a 100 percent grass and forage diet and meet a range of practical and trusted farm environmental standards and high-welfare standards from birth through to slaughter.

AWA is excited to announce that custom-cut Certified Grassfed by AWA beef from Brattset Family Farm will now be available seasonally to Milwaukee consumers. The second-generation farm, located on 146 acres in southeastern Wisconsin is owned, managed and cared for by the Brattset family.

Pasture-based management is at the core of the family’s operations. The Brattset Family Farm, in addition to farming to Certified Grassfed by AWA standards, also farms in compliance with certified organic standards and uses no GMOs, herbicides, pesticides, hormones or synthetic fertilizers. Consumers are welcome to visit the farm and see firsthand how the family raises livestock.

Emily Lancaster Moose is the outreach coordinator of Animal Welfare Approved.

For more information about Brattset Family Farm’s Certified Grassfed by AWA beef visit www.brattsetfamilyfarm.com.

For more information about the Certified Grassfed by AWA label, read AWA’s Certified Grassfed FAQs.

Also see "Wisconsin is a leader in creating a culture of values around food."

Editor’s Note: If you operate or know about local farms that adhere to sustainable, organic and compassionate methods, please forward information to

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