Consumers increasingly want to know where their meat comes from, and that is was reared in a cruelty-free environment. Financed with aid from the European Union and the Republic of Estonia, Liivimaa Lihaveis, an Estonia NGO, established an organic grass-fed beef quality assurance scheme, so consumers can trust what they buy.
Making the most of the natural resources
Like all good ideas, the assurance scheme began by working with what nature provided. The Baltic area does not have high mountains or deep lakes, but it does have grasslands. The grasslands house an incredible amount of biodiversity, with many areas containing more than 70 species per square meter.
Having seen the effect intensive farming has on the environment, Liivimaa Lihaveis wanted to promote farming that sustains and cherish these lands, while also providing farmers with a decent living.
An organic grass-fed beef quality scheme
Fuelled by a desire to protect the land and meet farmers’ and consumers’ needs, Liivimaa Lihaveis created a governmentally certified quality scheme that ensures the welfare of the animals, sustains the biodiversity of the country’s diverse grasslands and offers the highest prices to the producers.
The quality scheme promotes the grazing of Angus, Hereford, and Simmental breed cattle in organic-certified farms. Throughout the grazing period, animals under the scheme must be on pastured on grassland, and during winter the cattle must have the freedom to move freely. In the summer period, cattle are grazed on land of which 50% is permanent grassland.
In the winter period, animals must be provided a dry and clean place to sleep, water and enough hay and silo for every separate age group. A stark contrast to factory farms where animals often endure immense suffering. Feeding any grain to the cattle is not allowed. A stark contrast to factory farms where animals often endure immense suffering.
Today Liivimaa Lihaveis connects around 50 farmers, who have great love and respect for nature. Their common desire is to produce quality beef by rearing happy cattle in their natural environment, eating their natural diet – strolling around the great grasslands. Every single member is certified organic producer, which means that consumers can trust the products they buy.
Using the full potential of the meat
The beef is sold to consumers on the basis of the story behind the meat, placing an emphasis on how animals live, what they eat, how good it is for the environment and human health. The cattle’s diet – which consists of very diversified grassland – gives the meat a special and intense taste, as well as preserving the diversity of the grasslands.
See the cattle at home on the grasslands
After rearing happy cattle in their natural environment, many of the farmers were unhappy that only a small percentage of the meat realized its full potential, as a large amount of the meat was simply used to make sausages.
To help counteract this, they have prepared a series of simple recipe videos. They show the public how to properly prepare a wide variety of cuts of beef, from check and tongue to ribeye and entrecote.
Initiatives to transform food and farming in Europe
This story is featured on IFOAM EU’s EU Organic 2030 website, which showcases initiatives that help bring organic on every table, improve organics further, and make the value chains more transparent and fair. IFOAM EU is seeking more submissions to showcase best practice, so if you have an initiative which is making Europe more organic.