El Dorado Meats

“Where’s the Local Beef (meat)?”

We have heard the question and now the RCD is working with local producers and the community to bring El Dorado local USDA inspected meat to the people of our county. Over the next year there are plans to bring natural, organic and grass fed beef, lamb, pork, poultry, and goat meat to the community. Take some time and look over the website at what is being offered by the producers, give them a call with your questions, they will be happy to help you with your needs. Click here for a list of Local Producers.

Grass finished: Grass finished is now defined under a voluntary label claim administered by the USDA. The rule requires diets for ruminant animals —cattle, sheep, goats and bison, but not pigs —to be derived solely from forage. It also requires that animals not be fed grain or grain by-products and calls for continuous access to pasture during the growing season. Being a voluntary standard, however, it does not technically prevent a seller of a livestock product from claiming grass finished on the label if the USDA accepts the label clam. However, since the enactment of the rule, it would be doubtful that any new grass-finished label claim applications would be accepted without meeting the USDA definition.

Organic: The use of a claim to be organically produced is strictly controlled by the federal government. The agency that is in charge of this label is the National Organic Program (NOP). The main contact for information on organic standards is their Web site at www.ams.usda.gov/nop/. It is important to note that the organic label is also a third-party verified claim and those livestock producers who wish to use this label must be inspected annually by an accredited certifier, develop an organic systems plan and in general maintain extensive production and sales records. NCAT, through its ATTRA project, provides a great deal of information to assist with organic certification. For more information, visit www.attra.ncat.org.

Natural: With the exception of a possible new USDA voluntary label clam called naturally raised as mentioned above, natural is a label claim that is largely meaningless at least as it refers to how the livestock is produced. While individual sellers of livestock products may use a natural claim on their labels it could either refer to the level of processing of the product or more typically implies some implication that the livestock were raised free from the use of antibiotics or growth hormones. Unfortunately, these are not usually third-party verified labels meaning that the consumer must ultimately trust the seller as to the truth of the claim.

Natural Livestock Feasibility Study, February 2009 By Jeff Schahczenski