National Organic Program holds off on pasture decision

WASHINGTON, D.C, Posted August 26, 2006: Organic dairy farmers from around the nation converged on Washington for the semiannual meeting of the USDA's National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The dairy producers attended the August 15–17 meeting to show support for a NOSB recommendation that would make pasture access a requirement to organic dairy certification. The farmers were hoping to get a decision from the National Organic Program (NOP) on the pasture recommendation but the NOP was not ready to rule one way or another. Instead they returned the pasture rule change recommendations saying the language was unclear and they lacked "regulatory justification" much to the ire of the producers in attendance.

"This is a disrespectful process,” California organic dairyman Tony Azevedo said after the meeting which took place at the posh Mandarin Oriental Hotel in central Washington. "The USDA has been looking the other way since 2000 as corporate investors launch more and more of these ‘organic’ CAFOs [confined animal feeding operations].”

While, many were disappointed with the decision, NOSB Chairman Jim Riddle kept things in perspective, “They were not rejected. They were returned for further work,” he said in an email, “The NOSB Livestock Committee will revise the recommendations and expand the "rationale" section to include a complete regulatory justification.”