LA FARGE, Wis., Feb. 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Organic Valley and Maple Hill, leaders in 100% grass-fed organic dairy, today announced the launch of a new, third-party certification that sets the highest possible standards for organic dairy farming and products. Years in the making, the Certified Grass-Fed Organic Livestock Program™ and Certification Mark is administered by the Organic Plus Trust Inc. (OPT), a public benefit entity created to advance organic agriculture, 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 program brings much-needed consistency and transparency to grass-fed organic dairy standards for farmers, processors, manufacturers, certification bodies, retailers and consumers. Until now, the lack of federally-regulated grass-fed organic dairy standards allowed misleading labels to appear on the shelf, confusing consumers and frustrating the farming community. In order to protect the farmers who adhere to the strictest grass-fed production standards, Maple Hill and Organic Valley began working on the certification program in 2017. With the official launch, consumers will begin seeing the new seal on packaging in 2019, assuring the highest level of transparency by farmers and producers.
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 new Certified Grass-Fed Organic Livestock Program is built on the foundation of organic, meaning a farm must first be certified organic to participate in the program. 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. The 2019 program is administered by EarthClaims LLC for the OPT to ensure unbiased and transparent management and distribution of the certification mark, which is registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
"Maple Hill and Organic Valley have always been devoted to producing 100% grass-fed organic dairy in a way that exemplifies what consumers believe the words 'grass-fed' really mean. This new certification and seal is a giant step forward in protecting the grass-fed claim and giving consumers a true standard to measure at the shelf," said Tim Joseph, Founder of Maple Hill. "And for Maple Hill the launch of the new program is a meaningful way for us to mark 10 years delivering 100% grass-fed organic dairy. It's all we've ever done and it's all we'll ever do."
The introduction of this seal comes at an optimal time for consumers and the food industry at-large. American shoppers are becoming increasingly more aware of, and invested in, how their food is produced, the welfare of the animals involved in the process and how their food choices impact the environment they live in. Grass-fed dairy aligns all of these interests, providing important health benefits, minimizing the environmental impact of the overall process and creating healthier livestock.
"Organic Valley has been a leader in advancing organic methods and standards for the last 30 years. We wanted to help move the industry forward, so we partnered with Maple Hill to challenge the status quo and bring clarity to the grass-fed dairy market," said George Siemon, Organic Valley founding farmer and CEO. "This certification represents the fine art and science of organic pasture management and our farmers' commitment to land stewardship and soil health. It's been a good example of two companies working together to set higher standards for our industry."
The Certified Grass-Fed Organic Livestock Program currently includes more than 320 certified farms, 15 certified dairy processors, 15 certifiers and an expected 48 different dairy products. Customers can expect to see the official seal in stores in 2019. For more information, please visit Organic Valley at www.organicvalley.coop and Maple Hill at MapleHill.com.
About Maple Hill
Maple Hill is America's original 100% grass-fed organic dairy, producing milk, yogurt, kefir and cheese made with milk procured from 150 small family farms in Upstate New York. Cows on Maple Hill farms graze on pasture, eat only grass and are never fed grain. Maple Hill was the first national dairy to be third-party certified as 100% grass-fed organic. Maple Hill is everything consumers love about dairy and more - making grass-fed products that are better for you, better for the cows and better for the land.
About Organic Valley
Organic Valley is America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and one of the nation's leading organic brands. Organized in 1988, it represents more than 2,000 farmers in 35 U.S. states and achieved $1.1 billion in 2017 sales. Focused on its founding mission of saving family farms through organic farming, Organic Valley produces a wide range of organic dairy, eggs and produce. With its regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies. For further information visit www.organicvalley.coop. Organic Valley is also on Twitter (@OrganicValley) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/OrganicValley).
InkHouse for Organic Valley
Jenn McFerron Sloan
SOURCE Organic Valley