Will’s Wisdom: Greenwashing Is Destroying The Regenerative Farming Movement

Posted by Will Harris
Dec 9, 2019 8:37:00 AM


Twenty five years ago, I began slowly transitioning our family farm from the industrial cattle farm that it had become. Today we pasture-raise cattle, sheep, hogs, poultry, goats, rabbits, honey, eggs, organic vegetables, and a lot of the other products that the Abundance of Nature provides when her cycles are functioning properly.

Our farm had always been profitable when I operated it industrially. We had a few lean 'start up' years during the transition, but we soon began getting a fair return for our work.

Within the last 5 years, profitability has become elusive. The farm has continued to be profitable, but we are certainly not getting the sort of returns that a business owner has the right to expect. Our expenses are under control, we have good equity, we operate efficiently, and we have great employees… but we make a very small profit for the amount of business that we do.

I am not whining. We love what we do, and we are secure in our financial position. But, I am sad that I am no longer able to promote the financial viability of regenerative, compassionate, and fair farming to other farmers. Now, I believe, the risk of transitioning is too great. 

Why was I able to successfully transition, but now warn others to be careful? Because the game has changed.  

Product Greenwashing Is Destroying The Regenerative, Humane, and Rural Community Building Farm Movement.

Large multinational companies have seen the marketing advantage of making untrue claims on their products. Because of weak USDA labeling rules, these companies can charge more for their commodity products without producing them in a better way. They can add to their price, without changing their production practices.

Consider this:

  • International meat companies can shop for the cheapest grassfed beef in the world, usually found in impoverished countries. 
  • The cattle, hogs, poultry can be born, raised, and slaughtered in these foreign countries, and the meat be shipped on containers to the United States. 
  • Then, it can be sold in your local grocery store with USDA label that proudly proclaims "Product of the USA".  

This is perfectly legal. It is hard to fathom, but it is undisputedly true. 

This legal, but corrupt, practice will halt the transition of farms that would like to follow the path toward regenerative, compassionate, and fair farming.  See below-

Add your voice to those of us who are trying to end this trickery by supporting the US Beef Integrity Act. 

Support the  US Beef Integrity Act

More information from the Organic Consumers Association:

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Services Agency allows the use of the “Product of U.S.A.” label on any beef as long as the meat passed through a U.S.-based inspection plant, and/or was blended with meat from animals that were born and raised in the U.S.

Sales of grass-fed meat are nearly doubling annually. But about 80 percent of the grass-fed beef market is supplied by imports, compared with the total beef market where imports make up only 9 percent.

Because those imports often carry a “Product of U.S.A.” label just because they passed through a U.S. processing plant, U.S. grass-fed and grass-finished beef producers are hit hardest by this policy.U.S. producers can’t differentiate their product in the grocery store from imported beef. 

The U.S. Beef Integrity Act aims to give consumers what they want—honest labels. It would also level the playing field for U.S. grass-fed and grass-finished beef producers, whose practices are better for consumer health, and better for the environment.

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