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Breaking News: USDA's New Pasture Rules for Organic Livestock

By Joe Dickson, February 12, 2010  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Joe Dickson
This just in: The USDA published its final rule on access to pasture for organic dairy animals this afternoon. This enhancement to the National Organic Standards has been in the works for many years, and its announcement is a major victory for organic consumers, the integrity of the organic label, and the lives of organic livestock. While the National Organic Standards already require access to pasture for ruminant animals, this enhancement lays out very specific requirements:
  • Animals must graze pasture during the grazing season, which must be at least 120 days per year;
  • Animals must obtain a minimum of 30 percent dry matter intake from grazing pasture during the grazing season;
  • Producers must have a pasture management plan and manage pasture as a crop to meet the feed requirements for the grazing animals and to protect soil and water quality; and,
  • Livestock are exempt from the 30 percent dry matter intake requirements during the finish feeding period, not to exceed 120 days. Livestock must have access to pasture during the finishing phase.
We’ve supported this enhancement through our testimony and comments to the USDA and the National Organic Standard Board over the past four years. We intend to carefully review the final rule and provide our comments to the USDA. This change is a giant victory for the integrity and continued growth of the organic label, since it adds clearer definition to the role of pasture in organic livestock production. Our experience with our customers confirms that there is an overwhelming consumer expectation that organic livestock are grazed on pasture, which allows ruminant animals to fulfill their natural behaviors. Stay tuned for more updates, and for more information, check out the USDA’s press release and Q&A on the changes.
Category: Food Issues




sheri says ...
what fantastic news. Now if we can get the same regulations for chickens!
02/12/2010 9:44:51 PM CST
screwdestiny says ...
Awesome! Now let's hope the GE alfalfa does not go through.
02/13/2010 3:00:43 AM CST
Nate says ...
Finally we get some justice for the companies that have been using this loophole to claim "grass fed" or "organic". Will upset some people but I am all to pleased with this result.
02/15/2010 12:21:47 PM CST
carathevegan says ...
02/15/2010 1:10:36 PM CST
kristin says ...
definitely agree w/ sheri!!!
02/15/2010 1:20:09 PM CST
Candy says ...
Finally about time
02/15/2010 1:30:26 PM CST
Balaji says ...
This is great news but i wish that animals should be allowed to grace outside every day.
02/15/2010 1:42:59 PM CST
Veronica says ...
This is great! I just finished reading 'Omnivore's dilemma' ...This helps to solve my dilemma with the organic factory farm. I live in the middle of the city and I receive food stamps, so a farmers market is not an option....I agree with sheri about regulating the poultry!
02/15/2010 6:55:56 PM CST
Stephanie McConachie says ...
Thank you for sharing this information! I never thought this would become so important to me. Recently I made the choice to switch to organic produce and buy as much natural fresh foods as possible. The more I've found out about the dark side of the food industry, the more upset I found myself getting. I'm actually wanting to get involved on a level where I can be a part of good changes. For now I at least realized I could put my money where it could be more trusted to be used wisely and where I know the food would be better for me. I realize that the more people shop natural and organic the more it makes it possible for lower prices. Besides I'm not neccessarily buying my food anylonger based off of what is cheapest. I already cared about health, but when I found out that not even that was enough, I made a sacrifical choice to buy better food even if the money didn't stretch as far. My health conditions have improved since making this change. Thank you for what you do!!! God bless you!
02/16/2010 8:42:14 AM CST
TLM says ...
Someone below mentioned "the dark side of the food industry." Sadly, it is still a dark side, and this changes nothing. Would it be acceptable to you to eat bad food 70% of the time, and be unrestrained for 120 days out of a 365-day year??? Think about it. These rules mean nothing. You have to look at it from a farmer's perspective of what is the MINIMUM they can get away with. And define "access to pasture." This means cows can be fed corn 70% of the time, which is the wrong pH for them and causes them to be sick and have stomach abscesses. If you truly care about health, the only way to address it is to stop eating meat of any kind. Period.
02/23/2010 5:17:06 AM CST
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05/29/2011 9:55:39 AM CDT