WASHINGTON – A policy that allows a one-time transition of dairy cows from conventional to organic production has been inconsistently enforced, putting farmers who play by the rules at a competitive disadvantage and undermining the integrity of the organic label. However, a proposed rule would level the playing field by more clearly defining current regulations.
The Origin of Livestock proposed rule, which was originally published in 2015 but has not yet been finalized, would allow organic dairy farms to transition conventional replacement animals into organic production only once, prohibiting the continuous transition that some farms have incorrectly practiced. In comments submitted yesterday, National Farmers Union (NFU), a longtime advocate of fair and commonsense organic rules and regulations, voiced support for the rule and urged its immediate finalization and implementation.
NFU President Roger Johnson echoed the organization’s support in a public statement:
“The organic label is only as meaningful as the enforcement of organic standards. But currently, the origin of livestock provisions are being applied inconsistently across the industry, allowing some farmers to repeatedly transition conventional replacement animals into organic production while others comply with the rules and only transition a single, distinct herd once. This practice not only confuses American consumers, who have certain expectations about what the organic label means, but also puts rule-abiding producers at a significant disadvantage and threatens the integrity of the organic program.
“By providing greater clarity on transition regulations and ensuring that standards are uniformly applied, the Origin of Livestock proposed rule would protect consumer confidence in the organic label and ensure its economic viability for family farmers. We urge USDA to act quickly to finalize and implement this crucial rule.”