Local farmer awarded top environmental and animal welfare certification

Published 12:30 pm Saturday, February 20, 2021

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One local farmer is not just talking the talk. 

After a three-month process, Ferrell Blair’s cattle farm LJL Ranch was awarded the top environmental and animal welfare certification by A Greener World (AGW). 

The AGW certification and food label informs consumers that animals are raised outdoors on pasture or range in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S. and Canada, using sustainable agriculture methods on an independent farm. Consumer Reports has rated Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW as the only “highly meaningful” label for farm animal welfare, outdoor access and sustainability — and the only animal welfare certification in which they have confidence.

“I’m making the claim that I’m growing this stuff on a pasture and that it is local,” Blair said. “This is our cattle, and we don’t go out and buy cattle and then sell it a few months later. I wanted a certification that confirmed that for the public and my buyers.” 

A Greener World (AGW) identifies, audits, certifies and promotes practical, sustainable farming systems by supporting farmers and ranchers and informing consumers.

Blair said he wanted to go specifically through AGW because they are a nonprofit that offers a range of resources to help people make informed food choices, including an online directory of certified farms. 

Blair recognizes the growing consumer interest in how animals are raised on farms.

“I had to fill out almost 60 pages of information,” Blair said. “The good thing about it was for me was I didn’t have to change any of my practices to make all of their qualifications because we were already doing it all.” 

Blair said the only thing he wasn’t prepared for that the certification asked for was having a plan in place for forest fires or a flood. 

After receiving all of Blair’s information, he said they did a phone interview then came out to the farm and did an in-depth inspection. He said they opened and checked every nook and cranny in his barns, feed and supplements for the cows. 

“They look at your animals, they look at your environment, and they look at your fences,” Blair said. “They dig through the drawers in the barn checking to make sure you don’t have any antibiotics or hormones that are bad. I am glad they do because I wanted a complete look through of the farm.” 

Blair said they also looked over the cows to make sure they were healthy and met the AWG’s criteria. 

“We’re proud to certify farms like LJL Ranch that have demonstrated their commitment to transparency and verified, high-welfare, farming practices,” AGW Executive Director Andrew Gunther said. “These stewards of the countryside are quite literally building a greener world while producing delicious food, and we’re honored to help consumers find them — and in doing so choose products that match their values.”

All of the cattle at the ranch graze the grassy, rolling hills of the farm, which has been in the Blair family since 1965. The ranch uses rotational grazing practices and sustainable farming techniques, which results in lower environmental impact and a higher quality product.

“All of the hard work is worthwhile because, ultimately, it’s important for me to show that farming can be done in a way that’s good for animals, the land and people,” Blair said. “I like being able to share what I want to preserve.”

Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW beef from LJL Ranch is available at several retail outlets in LaGrange and for online order with local pickup and delivery. Check AGW’s online directory for details. For more information, visit ljlranch.com, follow the farm on Facebook and Instagram and contact Blair at ljlranch@outlook.com and through the contact form on the farm’s website.