Mother Earth Living

New Organic Standards for Dairy Cows

The USDA proposes an increase in grazing standards that will eliminate loopholes in organic dairy production.
By Stephanie Nelson
November 2008 Web
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On October 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed the Access to Pasture (livestock) rule that, if passed, will eliminate loopholes in the production of organic dairy. The proposed rule will enforce higher grazing standards for dairy cows, meaning 30 percent of the cows’ food intake must be from grazing. This means pastures will have an elevated role in the organic production cycle, as they would now be treated as crops. 

The proposal will clarify the problematic phrase “access to pasture,” to ensure organic standards are upheld throughout every phase of production. This standard will instill producers with “better records and tools for managing pasture and demonstrating compliance with the livestock regulations,” according to the Access to Pasture (livestock) rule. The USDA has taken eight years to rewrite organic dairy standards. 

Clarifying organic practices is necessary as consumers pay around twice the price for the organic guarantee. The Access to Pasture (livestock) rule will provide the assurance of organic integrity and practices, rather than just an assumption.  

The USDA welcomes comments on the proposal until December 23. Comments can be mailed to: Richard H. Mathews, Chief, Standards Development and Review Branch, National organic Program, Transportation and Marketing Programs, USDA-AMS-TMP-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 4008-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250. 

For further contact information, visit  

More about organic dairy

• Do you know what organic really means? Take this quiz and find out!

• Dr. Charles Benbrook invented an organic dairy calculator. Check it out!

• Say cheese! Check out Natural Home's favorite organic cheeses.

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