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Source: BusinessWire

Pure Country Pork of Ephrata, Wash., is the first farm to earn certification from the non-profit organization Food Alliance under a new national standard for pork production. One of the most comprehensive agricultural eco-labels in North America, Food Alliance Certified goes beyond humane animal treatment, also covering labor conditions and environmental protection.

"It's really a new world for agriculture," said Pure Country Manager Paul Klingeman, explaining his decision to seek certification. "More and more people want to know where their food is coming from and how it's being produced - and every new story that breaks in the newspaper is pushing them towards foods that meet independent, third-party standards."

"We're deeply committed to the health and well-being of our animals," Klingeman continued. "Our hogs are raised in open hoop houses with free access to food, fresh water, and clean bedding. They live in small social groups in a stimulating environment where they can have stress-free interaction with each other. And, of course, they are never fed animal by-products or given antibiotics. Now we have Food Alliance behind us to assure our customers we really are doing this the best, most sustainable way possible."

Pure Country Pork sells approximately 8,000 hogs a year to high-end grocery stores such as New Seasons Markets in Portland and PCC Markets in Seattle, and to Masami Foods Inc. which sells to select customers in Japan and the U.S. Some hogs are also sold directly to consumers.

Food Alliance introduced its new national pork standard in June of 2007. "We developed the original standard to serve some very small-scale pork producers in the Midwest," explains Food Alliance executive director Scott Exo. "As interest in the certification increased, the challenge for us was to write a standard that was appropriate for producers across the country, operating at all scales, while maintaining the same high expectations for animal welfare, labor conditions and environmental stewardship."

Food Alliance pork standards prohibit the use of gestation and farrowing crates, which severely limit the movement of sows during breeding, birth, and weaning − a "hot button" issue for animal welfare advocates. Food Alliance does allow the use of larger farrowing pens, as long as they are at least five-by-seven feet in area, which help protect piglets from being crushed but allow sows to stand, turn or lie down at will.

About Food Alliance

Food Alliance is a non-profit organization that certifies farms, ranches and food handlers (including processors and distributors) for sustainable agricultural and production practices. Businesses that meet Food Alliance's standards, as determined by a third-party site inspection, use certification to make credible claims for social and environmental responsibility, differentiating their products and strengthening their brands

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