Beef born and raised in the USA sticker

Why Is “Born & Raised in the USA” Important?

As we approach the July 4 holiday to celebrate our country’s birth, we want to acknowledge the ranchers who raise the cattle that become our beef. You might wonder why we place such an emphasis on buying from American ranchers. Vitalizing rural communities is one of the four pillars in the Panorama Organic 360-Degree Promise for several reasons, and it’s why Panorama Organic never has and never will use imported beef in our program.

The company was founded by a group of California ranchers more than twenty years ago, ranchers who realized that consumers were demanding better beef than what they were finding in the grocery store. That group of ranchers made the decision to develop relationships with their customers. They wanted to know who was buying their beef and to tell their stories to those consumers.

Eventually, doing so allowed them to make a better return on their investment, and that financial stability, along with the judicious use of conservation easements, allowed them to preserve their grazing lands, wildlife habitat, and open space, rather than having to carve off pieces of their ranches and sell to developers to pay the bills. When that happens, the land is gone forever. As founding rancher Darrell Wood has said, “I’ve never seen a strip mall or a housing development torn down and the land go back into ranching.”

As our products became more popular, the network of ranchers began to grow. Today, every one of the families who raise cattle for Panorama Organic in eight states across the West and Midwest is also demonstrating a commitment to preserving America’s grasslands, one of the most endangered ecosystems on the planet. They demonstrate that commitment by working with Audubon Conservation Ranching, a program that helps them maintain and restore bird habitat, sequester carbon, and keep waterways and riparian areas clean and flowing, especially important in these times of drought.

When ranchers are able to keep their operations sustainable, that has a ripple effect in small communities in rural America. The businesses that support the ranchers and farmers—the local feed store, the grocery store, the coffee shop—survive and thrive. The local schools stay open, as do the local churches and other organizations that support community life. Kids have opportunities to play soccer and baseball or take gymnastics lessons and take part in activities like Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. This isn’t the case in places where industrial agriculture has eradicated small family farms in favor of huge monocrop or concentrated animal feeding operations run by multinational corporations that foul the water and air, destroy the soil, and leave formerly thriving communities as shells of their former selves. 

Transparency is also important to Panorama Organic, and that’s why we carry certifications on our labels. Each of our ranches is visited annually by auditors who verify the claims. Not only that, but members of our team visit our ranches regularly to see how things are going with their own eyes. We don’t just rely on a piece of paper that says a side of beef is grass-fed and organic, which is the case with imported beef. We also track each animal through the plant, so there’s no doubt that what ends up in our packages is exactly what we claim.

And one more thing about imported beef—last year we explained that Product of USA on a label doesn’t necessarily mean the beef came from the US. It just means that the meat was cut and processed in a US plant. Much of the grass-fed beef in grocery stores comes from Australia, New Zealand, Uruguay, and Argentina. And much of that is treated like commodity beef—in fact, the major beef packers are the biggest importers of grass-fed beef. That may make it less expensive than American grass-fed and organic beef, but it’s not what people think they’re getting when they see “grass-fed”—and Product of the USA—on the label.

When you buy Panorama Organic beef, you’re making a difference with your dollars. Not everyone can donate large sums to causes they support or buy a Tesla to save the environment, but by spending an extra dollar or two on a package of ground beef, you’re not only getting a delicious and nutritious source of protein, you’re also saving birds and keeping land in open space. And you’re helping your rural neighbors keep their businesses going for the next generation. We thank you, and so do our family ranchers.

Floodplain wetlands landscape with hills in background and migrating waterfowl flying overhead

Panorama Organic Earns Audubon Certified Bird-Friendly Seal

 Nearly 700K Acres in Panorama Organic Rancher Network Recognized as Audubon Bird-Friendly Habitat 

New York, NY — The National Audubon Society has certified all 21 family ranches in the Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Meats® network – spanning 690,902 acres of grassland habitat – as bird-friendly, resulting in the largest market-based conservation partnership in the country. The collective of ranches initiated large-scale habitat improvements for birds and other wildlife by enrolling in Audubon’s Conservation Ranching initiative. With the certification, beef products from Panorama Organic will carry the Audubon Certified seal, a package designation for consumers that identifies a product’s origin from lands managed for birds and biodiversity. 

Audubon Certified Bird Friendly Land seal

Panorama Organic beef products featuring the Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal will be available nationwide in July at 90 retail locations in nine states – as well as online at Crowd Cow and Perdue Farms

“Grasslands, the most threatened ecosystem in the U.S., and grassland birds need our help,” said Kay Cornelius, General Manager of Panorama Organic Grass-Fed Meats. “Partnering with Audubon, our ranchers are doing the hard work of improving and restoring wildlife habitat. The Audubon Certified bird-friendly seal carries this grassland connection right to your local grocer for the easy part – where shoppers can now positively impact conservation with their purchases.” 

Each Panorama Organic network ranch now has a working habitat management plan, one designed to employ cattle beyond beef production and into rotational and regenerative grazing practices that create a mosaic of habitat for grassland birds, including flagship species such as the Northern Bobwhite, Western Meadowlark, and Sage Grouse. The habitat efforts are helping Audubon Conservation Ranching on its road to stabilizing declining grassland bird populations across the U.S., which have declined by more than half since 1970, primarily due to habitat loss and habitat degradation. 

“Once upon a time, the idea of ranchers and a group like Audubon working together would have been anathema,” said Marshall Johnson, Chief Conservation Officer for Audubon. “But our shared common goal starts from the ground up – abundant and healthy grasslands – and runs as deep as any prairie root.” In addition to sending consumers a grassland conservation message via the food chain, Johnson says the unique Conservation Ranching program is preventing the conversion of grasslands into other agricultural or developed uses – scenarios that result in significant losses of sequestered carbon. “Keeping grass firmly planted in the ground is a vital natural climate solution, for birds and people.” 

The mission of Panorama Meats is grounded in its belief that our remaining grasslands and rangelands must be protected and preserved for future generations. Ranching, as part of a comprehensive approach to regenerative agriculture, is in a unique position to protect and restore diverse grassland ecosystems. By keeping working ranches in grassland, Panorama ranchers are avoiding the conversion that has eliminated the majority of our native grasslands, thus preventing the loss of vast amounts of stored carbon. They don’t use chemical fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides – and they employ pasture rotation that leaves more residual vegetation cover, practices that not only benefit birds but have been proven to assist with carbon sequestration and improve the water cycle. 

“I made a commitment to raising grass-fed, organic beef that would protect the land and keep the ranch viable for generations to come,” said founding Panorama Organic rancher Darrell Wood. “Grass-fed beef is important for this ecosystem to survive and improve. It is important to the environment because cattle keep the landscapes healthy, sequestering carbon in the soil and removing greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. Every purchase of Panorama product featuring the Audubon Certified designation goes to support this important mission and the livelihoods of those who care for the animals and the land.” 

In addition to meeting standards in the areas of habitat management and environmental sustainability, Audubon Conservation Ranching requires animal health and welfare criteria to be met in order for ranches to receive Audubon’s bird-friendly certification. 

What's on the label sticker with guidelines on different seals to look for on labels with descriptions

What’s On the Label?

Sometimes a trip to the grocery store is a mind-boggling adventure when it comes to deciphering the information on product labels. Especially for shoppers who want to purchase according to their values, the sheer number of claims, certifications, and vague terms can be overwhelming. This is especially true in the meat case, where terms like all-natural, no antibiotics or hormones, grass-fed, and organic can create confusion.

At Panorama Organic, we’re committed to transparency. We want you to know exactly what you’re getting when you buy our meat to serve your family, and that’s why we created our labels to give you as much information as we can squeeze into a small space. 

But what do those symbols really mean?

100% Grass-fed and finished

Our grass-fed protocol says Panorama Organic cattle spend 100 percent of their lives living on pasture eating only grass and forage from weaning to harvest. They’re able to express their natural herd animal instincts because they’re never confined to feedlots or given grain to fatten them up. It takes a little longer to do it this way, but the results are meat that’s healthier for you and the planet, a content life for the animals, and a delicious eating experience.

USDA Organic

Each of the ranches in our network must pass a rigorous annual audit to insure they’re meeting the standards of the USDA Organic program. That means the grazing pastures and any supplemental feed, like hay, are never treated with chemical herbicides, fungicides, or pesticides and are completely non-GMO. The animals are never given antibiotics or hormones and are handled according to standards that keep them healthy and stress-free. The organic program is about building a farm system created on the foundation of healthy soil and that maximizes animal health and welfare.

Audubon Certified

In 2021, we announced our partnership with Audubon’s Conservation Ranching Initiative, a program designed to help consumers support efforts to preserve grassland songbird habitat by purchasing beef products that come from ranches who employ bird-friendly practices. This year, we’re proud to announce that all the ranches in our network have been approved by Audubon Conservation Ranching, and now our packages carry the certification logo on our labels.

Each of our ranches meets the strict standards established by Audubon in four areas:

  • Habitat Management—Every ranch operates under a habitat management plan developed with the help of an Audubon range scientist to preserve and restore bird and wildlife habitat and preserve biodiversity.
  • Forage and Feeding—As with our own protocol and similar to those of the USDA Organic program, animals graze open pasture their entire lives and are never given antibiotics, hormones, or animal by-products, nor are they ever confined to feedlots.
  • Animal Health and Welfare—All of our ranches must adhere to best practices when it comes to caring for their animals. This means allowing animals to express their natural instinctive behaviors and providing a low-stress environment in every aspect of their lives. Processing plants must adhere to Dr. Temple Grandin’s principles of humane handling.
  • Environmental Sustainability—Land must be managed in a way that protects the soil, grassland habitats, and waterways. The goal is to provide a healthy ecosystem for birds, wildlife, and pollinators and to sequester carbon.

Whole30 Approved

All of our beef is 100% compliant with the principles of the Whole30 eating plan, a program designed to help people change their health habits and relationship with food. By eliminating potentially problematic foods from the diet for 30 days and then following a science-based reintroduction regimen, eaters following Whole30 decide for themselves which foods make them feel the best and support their lifestyle goals. 

Born & Raised in the USA

Every one of our animals is bred, born, and raised on American family ranches. Panorama Organic never imports beef from other countries. We’re proud to support rural communities—the small businesses that support our ranchers; the schools, churches, and other social organizations that serve as the glue holding those communities together; and the service businesses that keep our ranch families healthy and happy. When you purchase Panorama Organic, you’re helping to keep a little girl in gymnastics classes, a local coffee shop open, or the local Boy Scout troop camping.

The QR Code 

To make it easy for shoppers to learn more about us even while they’re still in the grocery store, we’ve added a QR code to our labels. By scanning it with the camera in your phone, you can learn more about what we do, including the importance of our partnership with Audubon Conservation Ranching. 

If you ever have questions about any of our practices, ranches, or products, we’re happy to answer them. Just send an email or give us a call.

A Day At The Ranch

The staff at Panorama Organic is always excited to get out and visit our ranchers. In late April, we spent time at Eureka Livestock outside of Bakersfield. We invited some of our customers to come along, and we had a film crew on site with us to document the day.

We started early with a roundup and finished the afternoon with a pasture tailgate. It was a day of learning about the importance of grazing to the restoration of soil and the preservation of wildlife habitat, as well as the parts we all play–ranchers, distributors, chefs, and eaters–in building a more resilient environment.

Our sincere thanks to the Etcheverry family–Jim and Julie, Nick and Kimberley–for their hospitality and for giving us a small taste of ranch life.

No Cows, No Grass, No Birds

How Panorama Organic and the National Audubon Society Are Working Together to Save All Three

Kay Cornelius, general manager of Panorama Organic, rancher Dave Hutchinson, and Marshall Johnson of Audubon Conservation Ranching visit Hutchinson’s Nebraska ranch in March, 2021.

What does a grazing cow have in common with a Western Meadowlark? Both the cow and the bird inhabit the  grasslands and prairies of the Western U.S., land that’s under assault from rampant development and the quest to create more farmland for row crops—among them corn, soy, field peas, and wheat. Grasslands are disappearing at the rate of more than a million acres a year, and that’s one reason Panorama Organic has joined the National  Audubon Society’s Conservation Ranching initiative. Soon, consumers all over the country will be able to find Audubon’s “Grazed on Bird Friendly Land” seal on packages of Panorama’s organic, grass-fed beef.

For 115 years, Audubon has been the voice for birds in the Western hemisphere. “We have an obligation to be innovative, to be open minded, and to always lead with science as it relates to the protection of birds,” says Marshall Johnson, vice-president of Conservation Ranching at Audubon. “Over the last 40 years, there has been no more imperiled species of birds than grassland birds, those songbirds found on rangelands, pastures, and grasslands throughout the United States. We recognized early on that partnership between Audubon and ranchers was mission critical to saving them.” 

According to Johnson, Western Meadowlark populations have declined by 57 percent since the 1970s, and other grassland species like Chestnut-Collared Longspurs, Bobolinks, and Dickcissels are also imperiled. He says the current trend toward plant-based diets and alternative meats is a destructive one for habitats. “Grasslands are being converted to support the growing popularity of plant-based diets, and we need balance. Well-managed ranches are the ultimate solution, not plowing up grassland and putting plants in their place.” 

Johnson points out that more than 90 percent of grassland birds live on cattle ranches. “We have a pretty simple kind of approach,” he says. “No cows, no grass, no birds.”

The fit between Panorama Organic and the National Audubon Society is a natural one. “There’s so much values alignment between how Audubon is going about this program and how Panorama has sustained and grown its brand and its following over the years,” says Johnson. “So bringing these two brands, approaches, and networks together really has been, from the outset, a win-win situation.” 

But why do birds matter, especially to ranchers? It’s all about a healthy ecosystem. “It’s a cascade effect,” says Johnson. “Birds go silent, and that’s an indication that we’re losing pollinators. That also says much about wildlife and biodiversity, as well as soil health. When we lose grasslands, we diminish the ability of soils to function at their highest ability. We release carbon out of the soils and into the atmosphere and we also degrade the ability of the soils to sequester, filter, and discharge water, as well as to recharge our aquifers, rivers, and streams. So birds are great indicator species of the bigger calamity that we’re in the midst of.”

Panorama Organic’s network of 34 ranches manages about a million acres across the Western U.S., all of it organic.  Land conservation has always been a cornerstone of the company’s philosophy. In addition to the already-stringent USDA Organic and Global Animal Partnership Step 4 animal welfare standards by which Panorama Organic ranchers operate, as part of the Audubon program each ranch will be following a specific habitat management plan developed in consultation with an Audubon rangeland ecologist. That plan includes protocols meant to enhance soil quality; increase species diversity in terms of the plant life that benefits pollinators, like bees and butterflies; and to  restore habitat for grassland birds and other animals. 

When a consumer sees the bird-friendly seal on a package of Panorama Organic meat, what does it mean? “When I think about the seal and what we’re wanting to communicate with it,” says Johnson, “it’s that not only were these practices and standards met, but a third-party verification through Food Alliance ensures that the standards and the expectations were met.” For the 48 million bird lovers in the U.S., buying Panorama Organic meat with the National Audubon Society’s seal allows them to use their purchasing power to vote their consciences and to support ranchers committed to not only supplying quality products, but to regenerating habitat for wildlife and restoring ecosystems, as well. 

Johnson says the National Audubon Society is proud to lend its name to livestock practices that sustain and restore habitat. “The Audubon brand has stood for environmental and eco-conscious policy, advocacy, and communities  for more than 115  years—I think there’s really nothing quite like that,” he says. “We come to this to change the narrative, change the reality on the ground as it relates to sustainable beef and bison production. I think there’s nothing quite like the Audubon brand, Audubon certification, and the Audubon name in this space at this time.” 

Panorama Organic’s long-term commitment to conservation offers consumers an opportunity to participate in a meaningful effort to solve some of the significant problems facing the planet without having to invest in an electric car or solar panels. While a package of organic, grass-fed beef may cost slightly more than the commodity alternative, it makes a difference. The next time you buy beef, look for the Panorama Organic label. The Bobolinks, Western Meadow-larks, and Chestnut-Collared Longspurs will thank you.