Pasture provisions of organic regulations clarified

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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WASHINGTON – On Oct. 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will publish a proposed rule in the Federal Register to amend the National Organic Program livestock standards to clarify the role pasture plays in the production of organic ruminants.

"This proposed rule gives producers better tools to manage pasture and demonstrate compliance with the N.O.P. and gives certifying agents better tools to measure that compliance," said Lloyd C. Day, agricultural marketing service administrator. "Consumers will also know the regulations for animals grazing on pasture meet their expectations."

"This rule will continue to reassure shoppers that milk, beef, lamb, and other products are from animals that have access to well-managed pasture according to the strict national organic standards," added Christine Bushway, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. "Organic production is about continuous improvement of farms and the environment, and this proposed regulation is the next step in improvements for organic dairy, beef, lamb, and goat production in the United States."

Previous comments from the organic industry, consumers and other organizations, as well as several National Organic Standards Board recommendations, were taken into consideration for the proposed rule.

Proposed rule highlights include:

• Defining the term "growing season," and the requirement that all animals over the age of six months must be on pasture throughout the growing season.

• Animals must receive 30% of their dry-matter intake from pasture.

• A definition of "temporary confinement," and clarification of periods of temporary confinement.

• A pasture practice standard that addresses the management of pasture as a crop.

The comment period closes on Dec. 23. The proposed rule will be accessible on the N.O.P. website at www.ams.usda.gov/nop under "Today’s News."

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