Organic Trade Association Applauds USDA Release of Final Pasture Rule

February 12, 2010

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Organic Trade Association (OTA) today welcomed the release of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) final access to pasture rule for organic agriculture.

“It clearly defines access to pasture for organic ruminant livestock and sets a mechanism into place for strict regulation and enforcement. This will help enable producers and certifying agents to consistently implement National Organic Program regulations. As a result, consumers can be assured that the U.S. organic program for organic livestock remains the most stringent in the world,” according to OTA’s Executive Director Christine Bushway.

She added, “We are thrilled that USDA has issued this final rule and that it goes into effect in 120 days, which means it will be in place for this year’s grazing season. The organic community had been eagerly awaiting this important rule.”

The final pasture rule requires that organic ruminants receive proper feed, access to fresh air and sunshine, and well-managed living conditions, all practices that most organic farmers have used for years. The organic industry had asked for clarification of the pasture rule in order to facilitate compliance and enforcement of stringent federal organic regulations in place since 2002.

“Consumers increasingly are placing high value on organic principles that safeguard animal welfare and avoid confinement,” Bushway noted.

The final rule provides certainty to consumers that organic livestock operations are pasture-based systems, where animals are not confined and are actively grazing on pasture during the grazing season. The minimum number of grazing days must be at least 120 days, with weather and other factors making the season’s dates variable.

Bushway added that the long-awaited rule substantially refines the requirements for pasturing animals (ruminants) and has been crafted to recognize the diversity of crop and grazing zones in the United States.

The rule also provides an additional 60 days’ comment period for how it will affect livestock raised for meat, a provision that OTA had sought.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA’s mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy (www.ota.com).

SOURCE Organic Trade Association

Source: newswire

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