ACES Site Awarded Top Animal Welfare Certification

ACES Staff

November 21, 2013

ACES Site Awarded Top Animal Welfare Certification

Environmental site earns AWA certification, highlighting the link between agriculture and sustainability.
AWA Press Release: Aspen, CO, Nov. 20, 2013 – The herd of pigs and flock of laying hens at Rock Bottom Ranch, a site of Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES), has been certified as Animal Welfare Approved. This certification and food label lets consumers know that these animals were raised in accordance with the highest animal welfare standards in the U.S., using sustainable agriculture methods. This is the tenth farm currently certified in Colorado.
Rock Bottom Ranch provides ACES with a platform to educate the community about where their food comes from, as well as the opportunity to showcase scalable models of sustainable agriculture and the wider benefits of supporting small farms. ACES CEO Chris Lane says, “At Rock Bottom Ranch, ACES works to showcase how wild and agricultural lands can not only co-exist, but also thrive.”

Rock Bottom Ranch Director Jason Smith focuses ranch operations on high-welfare, pasture-based livestock production. Raising animals on range benefits people, animals, and the environment. “With planning and the correct infrastructure, animals can do all of the work,” says Smith. Pasture-based management minimizes fossil fuel use, manages noxious weeds, improves fertility, and saves time from mowing, haying, and spraying chemicals. “It’s also not subject to the variable costs of commercial industrial agriculture-things like changes in fertilizer price don’t affect us,” says Smith.
Smith pursued AWA-certification for the pigs and 180 laying hens to verify that they were using the best practices possible and to raise awareness about the AWA logo. “We feel that it is critically important to educate consumers about were their food comes from and make them aware of misleading labeling in the marketplace-like cage free, free range, and so on. We also hope to show farmers what a great marketing tool this is to help your product stand out in the marketplace.”
AWA Program Director Andrew Gunther says, “This is a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate the connection between animal centered agriculture and environmental sustainability.”  
AWA-certified pasture-raised eggs and pork products from Rock Bottom Ranch are available direct from the farm. Donation-based farm tours are available weekdays at 11 a.m. and free cooking demonstrations take place on the second Tuesday of each month, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the fall and winter. To learn more about Rock Bottom Ranch, contact Smith at or 970-927-6760. To learn about Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, visit 
About ACES: ACES, an Aspen based non-profit organization whose work is to build a community of knowledgeable, capable and motivated environmental stewards, first acquired 113-acre Rock Bottom Ranch in 1999. ACES makes over 100,000 contacts annually, largely though their educators who provide environmental science education programming for over 42 schools in the Aspen area. Visit
About AWA:  Animal Welfare Approved audits, certifies and supports farmers raising their animals according to the highest welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. Called a “badge of honor for farmers” and the “gold standard,” AWA is the most highly regarded food label in North America when it comes to animal welfare, pasture-based farming, and sustainability. All AWA standards, policies and procedures are available on the AWA website, making it the most transparent certification available.  
Animal Welfare Approved’s Online Directory of AWA farms, restaurants and products enables the public to search for AWA farms, restaurants and products by zip code, keywords, products and type of establishment. In addition, AWA has published  Food Labeling for Dummies, a regularly updated guide to commonly used food claims and terms, available free for download at

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