The standard will be published as a notice in the Federal Register and is titled “United States Standards for Livestock and Meat Marketing Claims, Naturally Raised Claim for Livestock and the Meat and Meat Products Derived from such Livestock.”

The naturally raised marketing claim standard states that livestock used for the production of meat and meat products have been raised entirely without growth promotants, antibiotics (except for ionophores used as coccidiostats for parasite control), and have never been fed animal by-products. The voluntary standard will establish the minimum requirements for those producers who choose to operate a USDA-verified program involving a naturally raised claim. USDA analyzed over 44,000 comments from producers, processors, consumers, and other interested parties in the development of this standard.

The segment of the marketplace that includes specific animal raising claims has experienced exponential growth in the past five years. Use of a naturally raised marketing claim standard has the potential to increase the available supply of US meat products eligible for niche marketing programs in the United States, the European Union, and other export markets that require livestock to be raised without the administration of growth promotants.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) works with industry representatives, academia, and other interested parties to establish or revise US standards for nearly 240 agricultural products. Industry uses standards in the marketplace to specify the quality of commodities. Standards facilitate commerce by providing a common language for trade and a means of measuring value in the marketing of agricultural products. Increasingly, livestock and meat producers are using production or processing claims to distinguish their products in the marketplace.

The naturally raised marketing claim standard will be published in the 21 January, 2009, Federal Register. This voluntary standard will become effective upon Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval of the related information collection provisions pursuant to the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 3501-3520).