New US Organic Pasture Rule

US - The USDA has published a proposed amendment to the federal organic regulations intended to address abuses by "factory farms," milking thousands of cows each and masquerading as organic.
calendar icon 28 October 2008
clock icon 2 minute read

The heated controversy pitted the country's 1700-1800 families who produce organic milk, and their loyal customers, against some of the largest dairy processors in the United States, including Dean Foods which markets milk under their Horizon label, writes Mark Kastel of OpEdNews.

"We are pleased that the USDA has finally addressed the concerns of the organic dairy community," Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute, told OpEd News, "but it appears that the department has once again monkeywrenched this process by incorporating a number of red herrings" major policy proposals that have never been reviewed by the industry, or, as Congress mandated, by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)."

OpEd News report that it is feared that these added proposals have the potential to crash the other needed changes addressed by this rule and indefinitely delay enforcement.

The USDA's proposed rule, published today in the Federal Register, clarifies requirements for organic livestock producers, principally dairy farmers, requiring their animals to graze on pasture and consume a significant percentage of their feed intake during the growing season.

The existing organic standards, since their inception, have required grazing practices for organic ruminants but have been flouted by a number of big industrial concerns.

The new proposed regulations are intended to make the current rules more understandable for all dairy producers and organic certification agents. However, The Cornucopia Institute and other groups representing organic farmers and consumers have objected to the USDA's adding new policy provisions that could cause a hailstorm of criticism as a juxtaposition to the praise the tightening pasture rules have garnered.

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