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Dairy Facts 2016

USDA Proposes Changes to Organic Dairy Heifer Certification Program

Apr 29, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Market Service recently proposed changes to the organic standards that outline how dairy heifers must be raised to produce certified organic milk. These changes, which are based upon recommendations made by the National Organic Standards Board, intend to clarify the national organic standards and promote consistent interpretation of the law. 

The proposal would change the organic regulations for raising dairy herds to require that all new animals be managed according to organic standards from at least the last third of gestation. Additionally, the proposal specifies that farmers could transition their conventionally raised herd to organic only once. 

“While we appreciate USDA’s efforts to clarify the organic livestock program, we are concerned that the proposed changes have the potential to limit options for dairy companies sourcing organic milk so that they can provide consumers a choice in the dairy aisle,” said Emily Lyons, IDFA’s director of regulatory affairs and counsel.

AMS says the proposed rule will allow all organic farmers to operate on a level playing field. 

Comments on the proposed rule are due on July 27, 2015. 

Any members with questions may contact Lyons at

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