Access To Pasture For Organic Livestock

US - The USDA has unveiled a final rule addressing access to pasture for organic livestock operations. The rule amends the National Organic Programme (NOP) regulations to clarify the use of pasture in raising organic ruminants.
calendar icon 15 February 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Because USDA received a substantial number of comments on provisions of the rule affecting finish feeding practices of slaughter livestock, USDA has extended the comment period for this provision for 60 days. Finish feeding is commonly used by organic farmers and ranchers to improve the grade of beef and involves feeding livestock grain.

The final rule brings to closure a process that started in 2005 when the National Organic Standards Board recommended that ruminants obtain a minimum 30 per cent dry matter intake for at least 120 days.

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 per cent 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 per cent 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 June 17, 2010. Operations that are already certified organic will have one year to implement the provisions. Operations that obtain organic certification after the effective date will be expected to demonstrate compliance.

Although this is a final rule, comments on the exceptions for finish feeding of ruminant slaughter stock may be submitted before April 19, 2010. This 60-day comment period pertains to the finish feeding provisions only.

To view the rule, go to:

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