The USDA Grass Fed Program for Small and Very Small (SVS) Producers was designed as a verification tool for small and very small producers to certify that animals meet the requirements of the AMS Grass (Forage) Fed Marketing Claim Standard. For this program, USDA is targeting producers that market 49 cattle or less each year and lambs produced from 99 ewes or less.
As part of USDA-wide efforts to create more opportunities for small-scale livestock producers, AMS designed a less costly application process for SVS producers, using the USDA Certified Grass-Fed claim as its first example.
Cost of the Service: The set fee for the review and approval is $108.00.
Duration of the approval: Two year period
Website Listing: One requirement of this program is that all approved producers must be listed on this website. The producer does have the option of what the listing includes but at a minimum that name of the location, ranch or farm and the approval date must be included.
Producers who are certified under this new program will receive a certificate that will allow them to market cattle and sheep as USDA Certified grass-fed, either as calves or market ready cattle, lambs, or market ready lamb increasing their market value and creating new economic opportunities for these producers.
AMS will review submitted documentation and the detailed farm or ranch plan submitted by the producer. If the plan is sufficient, AMS will approve the producer and the cattle and/or sheep at that location as meeting the requirements of the Grass (Forage) Fed Marketing Claim Standard.
The grass-fed marketing claim standard requires that ruminant animals be fed only grass and forage, with the exception of milk consumed prior to weaning. Animals certified under this program cannot be fed grain or grain byproducts and must have continuous access to pasture during the growing season.
The “49 cattle or less” or “lambs produced from 99 or less ewes” rule is based upon the smallest groups identified in the Farms, Land in Farms and Livestock Operations 2012 Summary, National Agricultural Statistics Service chart “Number of Cattle and Calves Operations and Percent of Inventory by Size Group and Number of Ewes One year and older and Sales by Size of Ewe Flock, United States: 2011 and 2012”. Those sizes of operations in 2012 included 640,000 or 11.5% of all cattle and calf operations in the United States and for sheep in 2012 included 59,127 producers or 29.5% of all Ewe flock operations in the United States and accounted for 32.4% of the total inventory of ewes and lambs.