The Grasslands Alliance standard draws on standards developed by the Food Alliance and is a companion to the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standard used for Rainforest Alliance certification. The Grasslands Alliance standard is comprehensive, meaning that it addresses whether ranch and farm grazing operations protect our environment and public health, maintain high animal welfare, and provide safe and fair working conditions. The standard also satisfies the principles and criteria of the Global Roundtable on Sustainable Beef.
This standard is being developed through an ongoing inclusive, transparent, multi-stakeholder process following the ISEAL code of good practice in setting standards. Multiple ranchers have contributed their wisdom, while scientists and technical experts spanning the ecological, economic, and land management fields have rigorously reviewed drafts. Final decisions about the Grasslands Alliance standard and certification process will be made by the Grasslands Alliance Board of Directors, guaranteeing that the standard is objective, credible, market-smart, and science-driven. As part of the Grasslands Alliance’s certification process, experienced, trained inspectors will use clear protocols proven by the Food Alliance and the Rainforest Alliance to conduct audits of ranches and farms. The certification process will also mirror those systems.
Pilot Testing and Public Consultation
In fall 2015, the Grasslands Alliance piloted the standard on three ranches totaling more than 1 million acres across different U.S. regions. In response to what we learned, we adjusted the standard’s criteria and indicators. Ranchers also provided feedback about what they value and think needs improvement in the standard, as well as about the types of support programs, guidance resources, and knowledge-sharing tools that enable producers to continuously improve their operations toward and beyond certification.
The Grasslands Alliance and the Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN): A Partnership for International Beef Supply Chains
The Grasslands Alliance and Sustainable Agriculture Network standards are aligned. Thus, wherever a supply chain sources beef—from the tropics to the United States and Canada—the operations meet similar criteria, adapted to local climate, environmental, economic, and social conditions. This alignment enables commercial buyers, chefs, and consumers to purchase certified beef from domestic and/or international sources with full sustainability assurance.