USDA Issues Final Rule on Organic Pasturing

February 14, 2010 06:00 PM
By Jim Dickrell

USDA issued its final rules on access to pastures for organic livestock operations Friday .

Specifically, animals must have graze pasture during the grazing season, which must be at least 120 days per year. They also must obtain at least 30% of their dry matter from pasture.

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% 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% 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, but operations which are already certified organic have one year to implement the provisions. Operations that obtain organic certification after the effective date will be expected to demonstrate full compliance immediately upon certification.

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