ALAMEDA, Calif. – Niman Ranch, has expanded its network of independently owned US farms and ranches from 400 independently owned farms five years ago to 700 today — a 75 percent increase. The expansion includes the addition of its cage-free egg program in 2010, which includes 26 egg farmers, and its East Coast hog program, in November 2011, which partnered with 20 new farms in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and New York.

The company works with family farmers and ranchers in more than 26 states who have agreed to raise livestock according to specific sustainable and humane protocols developed under the direction of Temple Grandin, Ph.D., animal handling expert, Colorado State Univ. professor and long-tome MEAT&POULTRY columnist. All farmers and ranchers within the network are paid a premium to adhere to the rigorous protocols, the company said.

“In 1972, the term ‘sustainability’ wasn’t making headlines, yet Niman Ranch founded a company based on the belief that raising livestock according to traditional agriculture practices was better for the land, the animals and the farmers,” said Jeff Tripician, chief marketing officer.

With increased demand for its meats that are never treated with hormones or antibiotics — Niman Ranch relies on its partnerships with these family farmers to bring the highest quality beef, pork and lamb to best-in-class food service and specialty retail locations in the US.

“The Niman Ranch farmers’ commitment to sustainability is one of the reasons I’m confident serving Niman Ranch meats to my guests,” said Joseph Kudrack, assistant executive chef at Red Rock Casino Resort and Spa.

Niman Ranch’s fresh, smoked and prepared meats are available at restaurants and select grocery stores nationwide.