USDA clarifies organic dairy requirements

USDA clarifies requirements for transitioning dairy animals into organic production, seeks comments on proposal.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced April 27 that it is seeking comments on a proposed rule to clarify the requirements for the transition of dairy animals into organic production.

The proposed rule is based on the recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board, an advisory committee of organic community representatives. The rule would update USDA's organic regulations by requiring that milk or milk products labeled, sold or represented as organic be from dairy animals that have been organically managed since the last third of gestation, with a one-time allowance for a producer to convert conventional dairy animals to organic milk production after a one-year transitional period.

AMS said by clarifying the manner in which producers can transition dairy animals into organic milk production and by promoting consistency among certifying agents, USDA establishes "a level playing field" that protects all organic farms and businesses and maintains consumer confidence in organically labeled products.

The proposed rule is published in the April 28 Federal Register. The organic community, stakeholders and consumers are invited to submit written comments on the proposed rule by July 27 by visiting www.regulations.gov.

Comments can also be submitted by mail, as instructed in the proposed rule, to Scott Updike, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, Room 2646-So., Ag Stop 0268, 1400 Independence Ave. S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-0268.

The National Organic Program, part of AMS, is responsible for ensuring the integrity of organic agricultural products in the U.S. and throughout the world.

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