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Temple Grandin, the renowned designer of humane livestock handling facilities, is launching a new certification program with the help of Niman Ranch that evaluates both sustainable and humane practices.
Set to roll out in August 2009, companies that wish to carry the certification seal will be audited on 21 core principles that must be met by all farmers and ranchers receiving certification.
The new program was created by Grandin and Alameda, Calif.-based Niman Ranch on the belief that animals should be treated with respect and allowed to fulfill their instinctive natural behaviors without damaging their environment, and with the belief that the land is a natural resource that must be preserved for generations to come.
"My quest to promote humane and sustainable livestock handling processes has been motivated by the unique gift I have to empathize with animals from being autistic," said Grandin. "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."
In addition to being the first program to evaluate humane treatment and sustainability combined, this new certification program is affordable, and will create an opportunity to advance the naturally raised meat industry and support sustainable and humane research.
The core principles specify that animals must be given the opportunity to care for, interact with and nurture their young. In the case of swine, farrowing crates are prohibited.
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 and have a feeding plan that will guarantee a sufficient, well-balanced diet to meet their nutritional needs appropriately 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 occupied by livestock in this program must have vegetation with a root system.
With the core principles completed, Grandin and Niman Ranch are now in the process of developing separate guidelines for each species of animals, as well as an auditing plan.
Niman Ranch said it plans to be one of the first companies to be audited to carry the certification seal for their humanely and sustainably raised natural beef, pork, lamb and chicken.