Hi Everybody.  Ivan Minks, Thousand Hills Cattle Ranch.
Because there are many Internet influencers who are sharing information about the difference between Grass-fed Beef and Certified Organic Beef, I, as the only USDA Certified Organic Beef Producer in Georgia would like to have my say about it. So, here it is from an actual USDA Certified Organic Beef Producer with personal knowledge.
Grass-fed vs Certified Organic
There are numerous claims on beef products such as, “Pasture-Raised – Pasture-Finished” – “NonGMO” – “Closed Loop” – “Regenerative and Sustainable” – “All Natural” – as well as certifications such as “American Grass-fed”, “Animal Welfare Approved”, Certified Humane”, “Global Animal Partnership” and “Certified Naturally Grown”.  Yet knowing what each of these ACTUALLY allows is where the true facts about healthy beef for your family comes in.
I want to start this week in providing our Newsletter Subscribers certain FACTS about these differences. Facts that I believe are important to YOU because they are important to us as producers of USDA Certified Organic Beef. I will try to keep it brief, but I believe you are interested and want to know the truth!
This Week:  All Production Systems (the Certifications named above) EXCEPT “USDA Certified Organic” allow the use of herbicides and pesticides on pasture grasses used for both grazing and harvesting for hay to feed later.
Remember, there are two inputs where chemicals can be used:  1) the animal’s feed, including pasture and any other supplemental feed they may receive; and 2) the animal itself, meaning the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and internal parasite medicines. This week I want to address the animal’s feed.
Certified Organic requires cattle to live on pastures with unrestricted access all of their life. This means they ARE Grass-fed with one HUGE exception…. my pastures (grass) have no herbicides (weed control), pesticides (pest control), or chemical fertilizers applied to the fields. When you see a “beautiful” pasture with no weeds, so green it looks amazing, and no brown spots that is not organic, but certified grass fed… you should ask yourself… “How does it get that way?” Who is certifying the “Grass-fed” beef your Family is eating has not been applied with chemicals?
The University of Georgia Extension produced the booklet, “2018 Hay & Pasture Pest Management Handbook”. This is extensively used by cattle and hay producers. I have added the handbook to our website:  www.GeorgiaOrganicBeef.com . The handbook covers both insect control and weed control.  Classes are held for producers where UGA Extension employees teach the information in the booklet. Classes are actually mandatory for some producers to receive their “Pesticide and Beef Quality Assurance” credits to maintain their license to use these hazardous chemicals on their pastures. There is no need for me, as an Organic Producer to attend these classes, although I have, so I have first-hand knowledge.
So, let’s look at this and Remember these production protocols are for producers of “Grass-fed Beef” and producers of hay to feed “Grass-fed Cattle”.  In the booklet, UGA identifies 19 common pests and the appropriate approved procedures and chemicals (pesticides) to use on grass-fed cattle pastures to control them. The list of chemicals includes: Warrior II Zeon, Mustang Maxx, Sevin SL, Sevin 4F, Prevathon, Besiege, various Pyrethroids, Baythroid XL, Dimilin 2L, Intrepid 2F, Tracer, Lannate 2.4 LV, 90SP, Amdro, Extinguish, and Justice (there are others).
These are chemicals and chemical combinations considered “SAFE” to use on the pastures for livestock .... the “Grass-fed Beef” people buy daily thinking they are buying Clean Beef for their Family.
Let’s look at two acronyms I want you to understand regarding chemical Pesticides and Herbicides – P.H.I. and R.E.I.

- PHI –  Pre Harvest Interval – the time between the last pesticide application and the recommended harvest of the treated crop (hay).
-  REI – Re-Entry Interval – the period of time immediately following the application of a pesticide during which unprotected workers should not enter the field.
But, what about the cow?  What are the time intervals before the “grass-fed” cow can be put back on the fields to eat the grass?  Here are the approved regulations:
Amdro – 7 day PHI, but ok for grazing with no restriction, and no time restriction for harvesting the cow. Amdro controls fire ants. Know any pastures in Georgia without fire ant mounds?
Sevin – Do not graze or cut for hay for 14 days after application. Sevin controls army worms, grasshoppers, green June beetle larve, and more.
Tracer – Do not harvest for hay for 3 days. Do not graze until spray has dried. Grass-fed beef can eat the grass when the spray has dried…who decides that??? The product is more concerned about killing army worms, caterpillars, and striped grasshoppers than in protecting the beef consumer – you!
Warrior II Zeon – 0 days grazing restriction, but a 7 day restriction for cutting hay.
Intrepid – 0 days grazing restriction, but a 7 day restriction for cutting hay.
For all of these chemicals there are no harvest restrictions for the beef….
That was Pesticides, not let’s go to Herbicides. This was really eye-opening for me. I did not even know the extent of this health hazard.
In the UGA booklet previously mentioned, there are nine pages of Herbicides recognized for use in Georgia alone. So if your “Grass-fed” beef comes from Mexico, Paraguay, New Zealand, Australia, Europe, or China, there are likely more to add to that list. (Not to mention pesticides.)
The Herbicides are: Direx 4L, Diuron 4L, Diuron 80, 2,4-D, Esteron 99C, 2,4-DLV 4 and 6 Ester, 2,4-D + dicamba WeedMaster. Firestorm, Gramoxone Inteon, Roundup PowerMax, Roundup Original Max, and Roundup Weather Max, Hi-Dep, Banvel, Clarity, Xtendimax, Aim EW, Aim EC, Outlaw, Grazon P+D, GunSlinger, HiredHand, Surmount, PastureGard, Milestone, ForeFront, GraxonNext, Chaparral DF, Crossbow, Redeem, Impose Panoramic, Sandea, OutRider, Prowl H2O, Remedy, Vastlan….  And the list goes on. Over 45 Herbicides recognized by UGA for use on grass pastures that Grass-fed beef lives on.
The most common are 2,4-D, Grazon, ForeFront, and Roundup (glyphosate). Roundup is a proven cancer-causing chemical, so here’s a question:  If I eat beef from a cow grazed on pastures sprayed with Roundup, can I get….poisoned??  cancer??
Grazon P+D controls both annual and perennial broadleaf weeds. Directions say:  “Use ONLY on Permanent Grass Pastures and Hay Fields”.   Why?
The restrictions for Grazon P+D are:

  • NO Grazing Restrictions
  • Do not cut for hay for 30 days
  • Withdraw Meat Animals 3 days prior to slaughter
  • REI and PHI – 48 hours
What that equates to:  A grass-fed cow can eat grass wet with Grazon, yet the grass cannot be cut for hay for 30 days, however, the re-entry to the field for humans is 48 hours. This means if a person goes into the pasture before the REI he/she may get harmed, but the cow can eat the grass today and be processed in 72 hours and if the beef is not aged it can be on your plate by the end of the forth day.
Grass-fed vs Organic ?  ……. You decide.
Thank you for being a Customer of our “Pure Beef” Product!  Next week I will look at the common everyday treatments given to cattle no one every thinks about…