Monday, February 1, 2010

Defining "Access to Pasture" for Organic Dairy

An article over at the other day looked at an important but obscure USDA rule regarding the definition of "access to pasture" for purposes of organic milk. Basically the USDA is in the process of rewriting the rule in a pretty commonsense way. Under the new rule, organic milk will only come from cows that: "graze on pasture for the entire growing season, or for at least 120 days in areas of inclement weather, getting 30 percent of their food from pasture."

This would basically exclude the big, industrial-organic producers that currently provide their cows a hay-covered strip of dirt outside the vast barns where the animals spend practically all of their time, and call that "access to pasture."

In my mind this is pretty simple. Ask yourself what a reasonable person would think of when you say "access to pasture." Knowing what we eat starts with making sure that the language we (and the USDA) use to describe our food is straightforward.

If you want to lend your voice in support of the new rule, you can do so here.

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