Organic, grass-fed, all-natural: according to Pierre : Belanger, these are often i nebulous terms.
"Everybody claims to be natural or to use biological farming practices," said the owner and founder of Earlton bison ranch Bison du Nord.
"But there are all kinds of farmers who use loopholes and claim to be grass-fed. For example, they might feed their animals grain during the last month to fatten them up or restrict their movement by fencing them into very small pens."
That's why Belanger and his family sought third-party accreditation to validate their claims.
In January, Bison du Nord received two certifications from A Greener World (AGW), an independent American organization that promotes verified and sustainable farming practices. They have a portfolio of certifications that they offer to farmers.
After a number of lengthy surveys and a full-day physical audit, the bison ranch became Certified Animal Welfare Approved and Certified Grassfed by AGW.
"It's a great way to start the new decade. We have really always ranched our bison this way, but this certification validates that for the general public," said Belanger.
"We want a very good, strong, positive, and ethical image for our ranch."
Bison du Nord was established by Belanger and his father in 1972. The rancher has now partially passed on the family business to his three children.
Charles, his son, works full time on the ranch. His daughters are in charge of social media and marketing.
They ranch on 570 acres of land, and their herd currently consists of about 300 bison. Each year, they market roughly 100 animals. And bison are big--according to Belanger, the average slaughter produces about 500 lbs of meat.
The family strives for a "holistic" practice. This philosophy applies to every aspect of their business.
"We want to achieve balance with the environment, our land, and the animals," said Belanger. "But it also applies to our personal lives. This has to be a self-sustaining ranching practice, which means it has to produce enough to sustain itself and grow, and adapt over time."
The certification process is quite thorough.
It covers every aspect of a husbandry practice including handling and transporting animals, the use of antibiotics and medication, the use of growth hormones, feeding practices, and more.
The ranch prides itself on its humane approach.
Their bison are run as a herd, which means they aren't confined or separated by age class. They have enough space to manifest...