Survey: Many areas still need addressed in organic livestock research

March 5, 2004: In the United States, it has only been legal to label meat as “organic” since February, 1999. The organic livestock industry is still in its infancy, but interest in organic production is growing rapidly and with interest comes responsibility. In a 9 page report released by the University of Minnesota two hundred and three participants from the U.S. and Canada responded and prioritized organic livestock research topics in ten categories.

The survey of organic livestock research needs was developed and conducted by Jim Riddle, Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems at the University of Minnesota in September, 2003 and was designed to identify the areas in which there was the most interest and most desperate need for answers.

The results revealed two strong trends: 1) the need for a holistic “systems” approach for organic livestock research; and 2) a widespread need for improved processing, handling, and distribution systems for approved inputs (feed, feed supplements, and medications) and for organic livestock products. As one commenter stated, “It is not enough to have a farm where organic hay is grown.”

Consumer demand for organic products growing has been growing at over 20 percent per year. The number of certified organic beef cattle, milk cows, hogs, pigs, sheep, and lambs was up nearly four-fold since 1997; and up 27 percent from 2000 to 2001. Certified organic poultry – including laying hens, broilers, and turkeys – showed even higher rates of growth during this period. (Source: USDA Economic Research Service).

The complete survey can be found at:

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