Sustainable farmers and ranchers now have two more ways to claim a premium for their ecologically friendly management practices, thanks to two new labeling programs. Both are backed by organizations with strong track records in conservation.
The Bee Better Certified program, operated by the Xerces Society, focuses on increasing flower plantings on farms to provide food and nests sites for native bees, honey bees, and other pollinators. It also helps farmers reduce or eliminate pesticides that harm bees.
Oregon Tilth assesses and certifies farms based on the amount and quality of habitat created, as well as the incorporation of pest management strategies aimed at protecting crop pollinators.
Bee Better is open to farms of all types and sizes. Those interested submit an application to Oregon Tilth, which inspects the farm and certifies if it meets standards. Certified farmers can use the Bee Better seal on their farmstands. Manufacturers can also use the seal on products that contain Bee Better Certified ingredients.
So much for the bees – how about the birds?
The Audubon Society’s Conservation Ranching Program is helping ranchers restore the large swaths of prairie where they graze cattle, on the theory that “what’s good for the herd is good for the bird.”
The program pairs landowners with local ecologists who guide them through sustainable grazing practices and other land-management systems that create vital habitats for birds. Cattle owners who commit to the program are entitled to brand their beef with Audubon’s “Grazed on Bird-Friendly Land” label, and sell it at a premium ranging from $0.50 to $2.00 per pound.
So far, 40 ranchers covering 600,000 acres are participating, and this spring 15 meat retailers will begin selling the specialty beef.
- Bee Better Certified. www.beebettercertified.org
- USDA Program Helps Nonprofits Innovate New Certification for Bee-Friendly Farms. USDA-NRCS. June 19, 2017. https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/newsroom/releases/?cid=NRCSEPRD1333636
- Audubon Conservation Ranching. http://rockies.audubon.org/programs/audubon-conservation-ranching
- How Cattle Ranchers Are Helping to Save Western Grasslands and Birds. Saha, Purbita. Audubon Magazine. Spring 2017. http://www.audubon.org/magazine/spring-2017/how-cattle-ranchers-are-helping-save-western