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new, 4/30/07

Organic Dairy Standards, Political Action and Alerts

Testimony of Kathie Arnold Organic Dairy Farmer Truxton, New York on behalf of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance and National Organic Coalition presented before the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry United States Senate Washington D.C. during a hearing on "Economic Challenges and Opportunities Facing American Agricultural Producers Today"
4/24/07 (pdf)

NODPA Action Alert For Pasture
6/12/06 (pdf)

NODPA Letter To NOP:
In Response to the ANPR posted on the Federal Register on April 10th 2006.

6/12/06 (pdf)

NODPA Public Statement On Organic Dairy Standards 10/20/05 (pdf)

Pasture Symposium 4/18/06

Letter to NOP on Dairy Replacements
3/24/06 (pdf)

NODPA Action Alert On Dairy Replacements
Farmer Comment Cover Letter For Replacements
Farmer Comment Wording For Replacement Issue
4/15/06 (pdf)


Visit the National Organic Program web site

Visit the National Organic Standards Board web site

NODPA Letter Regarding Organic Dairy Pasture Policy

October 8, 2004

Recent questions about the pasture requirement in the National Organic Rule have prompted NODPA to issue a Pasture Policy. This policy reflects our need as producers for a quantitative, measurable and enforceable standard for all certified organic dairy operations. We feel that the ambiguous language currently used to define pasture requirements in the Organic Rule has led to disparity between operations in various regions certified by various certification agencies and has opened the door for operations without adequate or any pasture systems to pursue organic dairy production.

Pasture is basic to what organic dairying is all about -- using natural systems to produce healthy organic food for consumers. There is no more natural system for organic dairy cows than pasture. Pasture leads not only to healthy cows, but to a healthy environment and to milk with superior health qualities for our consumers. Look at most any reference generically describing organic milk and they have the same basic message -- organic milk comes from pastured cows. That's what consumers of organic dairy products expect and that is what we as organic dairy producers must ensure they get.

Consumer confidence in the USDA "Certified Organic" logo is the cornerstone of current and future growth in the industry. To compromise that confidence by overlooking the intent of the National Organic Rule and the NOSB recommendation on pasture is not in the best interest of the organic dairy sector. Processors, with the cooperation of producers and certifieds, can set and enforce minimum standards for pasture which can help protect the integrity of "organic" until the NOP adopts language capable of doing so.

We have invited organic dairy processors to endorse and adopt the (below) Pasture Policy. We believe it can keep America's organic dairy cows on pasture, ensuring the green in organic dairy as intended. If you are an organic dairy producer, encourage your milk buyer to adopt the Pasture Policy. If you are a consumer of organic dairy products, encourage the company behind your favorite brand to adopt this Pasture Policy. And we all need to push the National Organic Program to require that certifiers make sure all organic dairy farms have credible pasture systems that meet this minimum standard before they can become certified organic.

Please contact Bob Pooler, Bob.Pooler@usda.gov, 202-690-3655 or Arthur Neal, Arthur.Neal@usda.gov, 202-720-8405 at the National Organic Program and express your view.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us, NODPA Board Members, or Kathie Arnold, randkarnold1@juno.com, 607-842-6631.

Sincerely,

Steve Morrison, NODPA President, Charleston, ME, 207-285-7085, mmorrison@midmaine.com
Jim Gardiner, Otselic, NY, 315-653-7819, horseingaround@citlink.net
Dave Johnson, NODPA Vice President, Liberty, PA, 570-324-2285, provident@epix.net
Mia Morrison, Charleston, ME, 207-285-7085, mmorrison@midmaine.com
Henry Perkins, NODPA Treasurer, Albion, ME, 207-437-9279, bullridge@uminet.net
Rick Segalla, Canaan, CT, 860-824-0241, mocow@earthlink.net
John Stolzfus, Whitesville, NY 607-356-3272, jtstribe@yahoo.com

Organic Dairy Pasture Policy

The Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA) supports the Pasture Recommendation of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Livestock Committee, dated June 7, 2001, which stated that "grazed feed must provide a significant portion of the total feed requirements" for organic ruminant animals. The National Organic Program (NOP) has failed to adopt this recommendation and has also failed to ensure that all certifiers require sufficient pasture systems as a basis for certification. NODPA concludes that a quantitative minimum pasture policy with measurable parameters needs to be adopted by certifiers, processors, and the NOP. Consistent with the NOSB recommendations and consumer expectations, NODPA recommends the following pasture standard for all organic milk producers:

Organic dairy animals, from 6 months of age and up, must consume no less than 30% of their daily dry matter intake from pasture for a minimum of 120 calendar days per year, with a maximum stocking rate for lactating ruminants of 3000 animal pounds per acre of pasture up to a maximum of 3 cows per acre.

  • Pasture is land growing suitable grasses and other forages from which the ruminant animals self-harvest the plant material, which is still connected to its roots, for food by grazing. Feeding green chop or any mechanically harvested or stored feed on a pasture setting does not qualify as pasture.
  • Pasture must be managed to prevent environmental degradation
  • The only stage of production exemption allowed is from birth to six months of age. Lactation is not an allowable stage of production exemption from providing pasture for milking animals for the entire grazing season.
  • Unless under irrigation, most farms will have to maintain a lower stocking rate than the maximum noted in order to meet the minimum 30% dry matter intake from pasture.
  • The maximum stocking rate of 3000 animal pounds per acre means that the ratio of animals to the total number of acres in the lactating ruminant pasture system for the full grazing season cannot exceed 3000 animal pounds per 1 acre of pasture. Thus, herds with larger breed cows will have to maintain a stocking rate lower than 3 cows per acre and smaller breeds can have no more than 3 cows per acre.
  • This standard sets a base minimum. Organic dairy producers are encouraged to provide much more pasture than this minimum, as many producers are so doing. Ideal intake of pasture for organic dairy animals is 50% of more of their dry matter needs, from weaning age onup through their full life cycle, and for the fullest extent of the grazing season.
  • Climates, areas, or farms that cannot provide a minimum of 120 days of grazing should not be considered for organic dairy production.
  • Herd size must be adjusted appropriately to the amount of pasture that can be provided by the farm's land base. Land that normally produces stored feed may need to be converted to pasture to ensure adequate pasture intake.

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