At AgLocal, we abide by the belief that no two animals or two farms are the same. We desire to learn and understand each farm’s beliefs regarding what is best for their land and their animals on a long-term scale. Sustainable agriculture practices are cultivate a healthy and balanced ecosystem by choosing a holistic approach that takes into consideration the type of animal, its individual need and the environment and ecology of the farm. AgLocal farmers embrace a hands-on approach that heightens their working knowledge of each animal and each piece of land, resulting in healthier, safer and tastier meats.
AgLocal Farm Members pledge to operate under these protocols that put land, animal, and human health and safety first. Our on-site audits upon sign-on and yearly thereafter ensure farm compliance.
Ranchers live by the philosophy that land should be left in a better condition than it was found. We ask that land not be overcrowded with too many animals, over-grazed and left depleted of nutrients. Farms do not operate on a strict input versus output production basis, but rather utilize a circular model that incorporates natural ecology and holistic practices. Manure management maximizes nutrient cycling and does not contaminate crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, heavy metals, or pathogenic organisms.
Ownership and AggregatorsAgLocal farms are source-verified individual farms, meaning farm is independently owned and operated. Owners are involved in day-to-day management of the farm and its animals. If supplier is a cooperative, aggregator or marketing network, both the group and all individual member farms meet our outlined criteria. Aggregators are able to facilitate a direct relationship with individual member farms and each farm undergoes the AgLocal audit.
Farms recognize the daily and long-term health of people as part of their responsibility and their farm ecology. Farms employ safe and fair working conditions for all laborers. All farm workers receive at least the federal minimum hourly wage. Farms provide an equal opportunity environment, free from risk of racial or sexual discrimination.
AgLocal farms provide pasture-based, free range, and/or outdoor systems to their livestock. Pasture is defined as outdoor environment with naturally occurring or encouraged/cultivated forage, grasses, legumes, and other vegetative resources used for feed source. Animals must have free and continuous access to outdoor pasture or outdoor environments upon reaching weaning/adult age, with the exception that we allow farms to house their animals when their welfare would otherwise be at risk, such as during extreme weather situations. In the absence of pasture, outdoor environments are evaluated on a case-by-case basis according to the soil and land/paddock health, ecology, biohazard safety, size, location, and rotational methodology used. Preference for pasture-raised methods over enhanced outdoor access, when applicable to specific animal type.
Whether directly administered to the animal or given in feed, mineral blocks or other means, hormones, steroids, beta agonists and other growth promotants are prohibited. Antibiotics for sub-therapeutic or non- therapeutic use are prohibited.
Animal breeds are selected and bred for their ability to thrive in the varying farm climates and physical environments. Preference for heritage breeds, but both full bred and crossbred animals are acceptable. Heritage Breed is defined by the American-based Livestock Conservancy as follows: “Heritage breeds are traditional livestock breeds that were raised by our forefathers…carefully selected and bred over time to develop traits that made them well-adapted to the local environment. Traditional, historic breeds retain essential attributes for survival and self-sufficiency – fertility, foraging ability, longevity, maternal instincts, ability to mate naturally, and resistance to diseases and parasites. Heritage breeds have genetics that are more “well-rounded.�? While breeders may select their animals for certain characteristics, they’re not selected so narrowly so as to lose other valuable and biologically important characteristics.�?
Artificial Insemination is allowed. Embryo Transfer is prohibited. Breeding programs select for animal welfare over economic gains. Breeding and birthing happen naturally. Caretakers only assist when vitality of the animal is at risk. Weaning process and ages are species-specific and with maximum mother-offspring time and consideration. Cloned or genetically engineered animals are prohibited.
Veterinary records are maintained and available at all times. Animals are able to be traced from birth to slaughter. Full record of source and purchase date for replacement stock are available and reviewed upon request. Preference for replacement and breeding stock to be sourced on-farm, but not required.
Cows, pigs, goat, sheep, bison, turkeys, chicken and ducks are never confined, unless for recorded medical purposes. Smaller animals such as rabbits have optimal space and housing allotments. Animals are allowed to live in social circles as dictated by their most natural herd, group or colony patterns. Animals live in a low stress environment from birth to harvest, including transport. There is sufficient protection from seasonal extreme climate situations, and appropriate shelter is allowed during sensitive birthing moments and growth periods. Land is not overcrowded and pasture is rotated as needed. Animals experience natural light and open air on a daily basis. Proper temperature, ventilation, and air quality relevant to species. Bedding for relevant animals is kept clean, dry and safe at all times. Please see our forthcoming Animal Specific Guidelines for details on our non-confinement policies for each animal species.
Feed for ruminant animals is composed of grass, mixed forage, hay, haylage, or balage and is a majority percentage of total feed. Ruminants can have forage supplemented by grain but always still have constant access to forage. Preference for 100% grass-fed for ruminants. Farm provides AgLocal the ration mix and source of feed when requested. Feed must be dry, without mold, and animals must have safe access to each one’s full ration. GMO-free and locally-sourced feed is encouraged but not required.
Consistent and unrestricted access to clean water.
Injured animals receive immediate attention to minimize suffering and pain. We encourage holistic, homeopathic, and naturopathic treatments in conjunction with veterinary practices and frequent check-up by producer.
Animals are slaughtered in USDA-certified facilities, and on-farm slaughter is prohibited with the exception of USDA-certified mobile slaughter facilities. Low-stress method of handling, loading, transport, and harvesting. Preference for humane slaughter practices as per AWA standards, and including pre-slaughter stunning. Under 3-hour transport to slaughter encouraged, with 6 hour maximum.
All AgLocal meat is processed/processed in USDA-certified facilities. Quality control at processor level is important and critical to the producer relationship. Labels include mandatory USDA retail information (lot number, USDA stamp, weight, name of contents, name of producer, name of processor). Historied relationship with processor preferred.
VAPs use natural guidelines and are hormone, antibiotic, artificial ingredient and preservative-free. Preference for sulfite, nitrate and nitrate-free or uncured processes. VAPs are made from USDA certified fabricated product, in certified kitchen with appropriate HAACP permits and food safety practices specific to products produced and state regulations.
This document is ever-evolving and we are constantly working to refine the expression of our priorities and our member farms’ methods. We welcome your input and suggestions as to how we make our ethical choices more clear to both consumers and producers. Stay tuned for future publication of species-specific standards.