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Update on the NOP Origin of Livestock Rulemaking

Organic Valley, which sources organic milk from over 1,700 organic dairy farmers nationwide, applauds and welcomes the long-awaited announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to finalize the National Organic Program regulation on Origin of Livestock. Originally published in 2015, this regulation clarifies the expectation for how dairy farms transition and source dairy cows for organic milk production, see USDA graphic.

The final rule addresses an inconsistent interpretation among USDA accredited certifiers that in some instances allowed a continuous flow of animals transitioned from nonorganic to organic dairy operations. USDA clarified Origin of Livestock to mean that a dairy operation can exercise a one-time transition event from conventional to organic for a period of 12 months, thereafter all dairy animals brought on the farm must be organic from the last third of gestation.

The USDA’s action falls in line with the thousands of public comments supporting the agency's narrowing of permissible organic dairy transition approaches. Along with others, Organic Valley was a leading voice on the rulemaking and commented in the past three comment periods and also had board chair Steve Pierson testify on the topic in 2019 in front of the U.S. House Agriculture subcommittee for Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research.

“Origin of livestock has been a long-standing priority for Organic Valley. Our farmers have been disadvantaged by the lack of consistency on origin of livestock for far too long” says Steve Pierson of St Paul Oregon. “This is a priority that we helped lead nationally over the last seven years, I am encouraged that there is finally some progress from the USDA on a vital aspect of the organic program.”

While this final rule represents progress, Organic Valley and the organic community will need to continue helping government agencies understand the dynamics small to mid-sized farms face as they look to bring the next generation into farm ownership and operation.

Origin of Livestock Final Rule Factsheet

Organic Valley is a nationally recognized organic cooperative based in La Farge, Wisconsin. They work with organic producers in 34 states and offer an array of organic dairy, egg, meat, and produce products to consumers. The cooperative has been a prominent actor in the organic sector since 1988 and is active in policy and government regulation impacting organic dairy farmers.

Issue: May 2022
By: Organic Valley