July 23, 2024

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New USDA rule clarifies organic dairy transition

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) – The USDA has made a key policy change in its organic dairy standards in an effort to create fairness across the board for farmers.

The “origin of livestock rule” applies to how farms make the switch from conventional to organic. It will allow current herds to be converted by adopting organic standards, assuming all future generations of livestock would be raised organically from birth.

A loophole existed allowing livestock to be raised conventionally and converted later on, saving large organic producers money but raising questions about organic integrity. The new rule makes it clear livestock can be converted only once, organic producers can’t purchase transitioned animals, and it clarifies how long organic management has to be in place for animals.

Vermont agriculture officials say this is a big step in leveling the organic dairy playing field. “There is a piece of this that is going to help level the expense across all organic operations so that everyone is either procuring or raising animals in the same way,” said Laura Ginsburg with the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food & Markets.

“I thank USDA for making this change, we must remain vigilant in protecting organic standards. This will help ensure that large producers are not abusing a loophole to give themselves an unfair advantage,” Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy said in a statement.

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