Rainforest Alliance Certified Cattle

Bull in forested pasture The problems associated with cattle farming in the tropics are well documented. A 2006 report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 26 percent of the Earth’s terrestrial surface is devoted to the grazing of livestock. Not only is grazing a major driver of deforestation, but livestock is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

However, with the launch of standards for Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cattle farms, there’s a positive story to be told. Designed by a cross-section of scientists, ranchers and other stakeholders in the tropics, these certification standards ensure that economically viable beef and milk production is compatible with biodiversity conservation and worker welfare. The standards only pertain to cattle allowed access to pasture and cover issues such as land and waste management, quality of infrastructure and the treatment and transport of the animals. Farmers must properly dispose of waste, prevent confrontations between cattle and wild cats, protect natural waterways and treat their animals well.

Rainforest Alliance certification aims to reduce the carbon footprint of cattle ranches by requiring that trees be conserved on pasture lots, in forest reserves or as live fences, and that animals be fed an easily digestible diet that results in reduced methane emissions. Ultimately, certification offers responsible ranchers a way to distinguish their products from those of their peers, while setting an example for sustainable cattle production.

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