USDA Issues Ruling on Pasture for Organic Operations

Posted on 02/19/2010 at 12:00 AM by Christa Hartsook

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced details of the final regulation regarding access to pasture for organic livestock operations. This rule amends the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations to clarify the use of pasture in raising organic ruminants.

The final rule provides certainty to consumers that organic livestock production is a pasture based system in which animals are actively grazing pasture during the grazing season. The majority of organic dairy and ruminant livestock producers are already grazing animals and maintaining pastures that meet the requirements of this rule. These standards contain clear requirements that will provide greater assurance that all producers are being held to the same standards.

The main components of the rule include:

  • 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.

The final rule becomes effective 120 days after publication, June 17, 2010. Operations which are already certified organic will have one year to implement the provisions. Operations which obtain organic certification after the effective date will be expected to demonstrate full compliance.

Copies of the final rule and additional information are on display on line at http://www.ams.usda.gov/NOP.
 

Categories: Organics