A long-time fixture within the animal-handling issue, Temple Grandin, is launching a new certification program to evaluate both sustainable and humane practices of a food-animal production system. The Colorado State University researcher and animal-handling expert worked with Niman Ranch to develop the program.

Starting in August, producers or companies that wish to be certified will be audited on 21 core principles. In the case of a multiple-producer company, all farmers and ranchers must receive certification. There will be a certification seal associated with the audits.
The 21 core principles include:

  • Animals must be given the opportunity to care for, interact with, and nurture their young. In the case of swine, farrowing crates are not allowed.
  • Practices must be implemented that prevent soil loss or degradation in production areas; minimize unacceptable or unintended poor air quality for family, workers and neighbors; and prevent water quality degradation of surface and groundwater resources.
  • Animals must be fed a 100 percent vegetarian diet. There must be a feeding plan that will guarantee a sufficient, well-balanced diet to appropriately meet the animals' nutritional needs at their stage in life and maintain required body condition scores. Animals shall have access to feed as long as is necessary for them to satisfy their nutrient requirements.
  • Pasture and/or bedding are the preferred environments. To qualify as pasture, 75 percent or more of the land that the animals in the program occupy must have vegetation with a root system

With the core principles completed, Grandin and Niman Ranch are now developing specific guidelines for each food-animal species, as well as refining the auditing plan.

Niman Ranch officials says they plan to an earlier adopter and to carry the certification seal on their natural beef, pork, lamb and chicken products

"Using animals for food is fine, but we've got to do it the right way. This program provides farmers and ranchers a practical and affordable way to give animals a decent life and minimize the impact on our environment at the same time," Grandin said in a statement.

Source: Niman Ranch