Buying Grass-Fed Dairy Is About to Get Easier

A new logo is coming to dairy products near you, so learn what it’s all about.

Last year, one of America’s biggest organic dairy cooperatives, Organic Valley, added 17 additional grass-fed milk farms to its roster. The reason? It needed to keep up with demand for Grassmilk, the nation’s top-selling grass-fed dairy brand. Now Organic Valley has 81 farms working to produce Grassmilk, and demand for its milk, yogurt, and cheese continues to grow at three times the rate of non-grass-fed dairy products.

Americans can’t get enough of grass-fed dairy. They love the idea of cows grazing outside and products free from antibiotics and growth hormones. But the dairy aisle of the grocery store is still a murky, confusing place. There are so many labels, logos, and certifications on containers that it’s impossible to know what they all mean.

Civil Eats calls it a Wild West:

“It’s possible that the cows that produced your milk may have roamed on grass and eaten silage, hay, and other forms of dried grass in the wintertime. Or their feed may be supplemented with grain in a so-called grassfed operation.”

In other words, you really don’t know what you’re getting when it comes to dairy claims.

To solve this problem, a group of dairy cooperatives teamed up to make it easier for shoppers to make informed choices. Headed by the American Grassfed Association (AGA), new Grassfed Dairy were written last year, with the collaboration of other grass-fed dairy producers. The group had a three-part goal:

• To ensure the healthy and humane treatment of dairy animals
• To meet consumer expectations about grassfed dairy products
• To be economically feasible for small and medium-size dairy farmers

The new standards were formally approved in December 2016. An accompanying logo will be visible on dairy products in the near future, pending the creation of a formal timeline for launch, likely to be announced in early February.

American Grassfed

Photo Credit: AGA

The AGA standard includes detailed directions for the minimum number of days that cattle must spend outside each season, where and how they can graze, what they can and cannot eat (i.e. no GMO-sourced forage or cereal crops that have gone to seed), and rules against antibiotic use. Feeding grain in any form, even as a carrier for mineral and vitamin supplements, is strictly forbidden. Producers must consult regularly with veterinarians on their “written herd health plans.” If animals fall sick and must take antibiotics, then their milk cannot be mixed with the other grass-fed milk.

Because the standard is not government-issued and has been created voluntarily, it will appear alongside other labels on dairy products – a potential source of confusion for shoppers. But it’s one that’s worth noticing and remembering, as it appears to be the most ethical and comprehensive standard to date.

Written by Katherine Martinko. This post originally appeared on TreeHugger.

Photo Credit: katesheets/Flickr

57 comments

Sarah H
Sarah Hill8 months ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim V10 months ago

thanks for sharing.

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D11 months ago

Can't wait to try this. Will be looking for Organic Valley in my supermarket. Thank you for this great article.

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Chen Boon Fook
Chen Boon Fook11 months ago

Noted

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Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus11 months ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Dennis Hall
Dennis Hall11 months ago

Thanks.

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Janis K
Janis K11 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Peggy B
Peggy B11 months ago

Heather G... Humanely treated cows producing milk is no different than in past centuries when women carried on producing milk after they weaned their own children to provide milk for women who couldn't produce milk. This still goes on today, but not as much. They were called wet nurses. As long as they expressed milk daily they produced. I grew up in a rural area seeing how animals were treated and actually being allowed to milk a cow. When they had calves they weren't used for milking until their calf was weaned. There was no harm to them. The farm factories are a different matter and I hope that someday they will be done away with.

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Peggy B
Peggy B11 months ago

This is brilliant news.

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Ruth C
Ruth C11 months ago

No animal products for us.

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