Origin of Livestock Rule for Organic Dairy Finalized by USDA

Brian GermanDairy & Livestock, Organic, Regulation

Origin of Livestock

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalized the Origin of Livestock rule for organic dairy production. USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) will oversee the new rule, which has been long-awaited by many organic producers. Organizations such as the Organic Farmers Association, California Certified Organic Farmers, and National Organic Coalition had been advocating for change in the rule for years. Many industry groups have indicated the previous iteration and enforcement of the rule created competitive disadvantages.

Official portrait of Secretary Thomas J. Vilsack.
USDA photo by Tom Witham

“The Origin of Livestock final rule provides clear and uniform standards about how and when livestock may be transitioned to organic dairy production, and how transitioned animals are managed within the organic dairy system,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a press release. “Now, all organic dairy livestock producers will have the confidence and certainty they are operating in a fair and competitive market.”

The finalized rule is aimed at promoting fairer competition in the organic market and ensure more consistent production and certification practices. New or transitioning dairy operations can purchase or raise organic animals, or transition nonorganic animals into production one time. Once certification is complete an operation can add animals that have been organically managed from the last third of gestation. Operations will not be able to source transitioned animals from another operation, unless granted a limited exception by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service.  

“Origin of livestock has been a long-standing priority for Organic Valley. Our farmers have been disadvantaged by the lack of consistency on origin of livestock for the last 20 years,” said Organic Valley Board President and Farmer-Member Steve Pierson. “This is a priority that we have led nationally and over the last seven years, and while the regulation isn’t perfect, I am encouraged that there is finally some progress from the USDA on a vital aspect of the organic program.”

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West