Sunday, February 14, 2010
In what is generally being regarded as a victory for small organic dairy farms and ranchers, the USDA has issued new rules for organics that close a major loophole in the definition of "access to pasture." Under the old rules, industrial producers claimed that "access" did not necessarily mean cows had to be out in the pasture, or eat anything that grows in the pasture, or even be aware of their supposed access to this pasture. Which means that we as consumers were paying a premium for dairy products from cows raised largely in the same manner as all the other CAFO cows out there. Not so starting in June 2010. Under the new rules, "organic dairy herds must be sent to pasture for the entire grazing season of at least 120 days and must get at least 30% of their food from pasture during that season." For the small producers who already do this, the transition will be easy. For big organic it should be a bit tougher, with the wonderful dual result of leveling the playing field for the little guys and giving the organic label even more well-defined value for the consumer.
More (with additional links) from Marion Nestle at Food Politics.