February 18, 2010

New Organic Dairy Standards Mandated 30% Grazing Diet

Large "organic" dairies have come under criticism by consumers for inhumane treatment of livestock. Green Living Ideas reports on the practices used by Horizon Organic:

It is the Idaho dairy farm where the image is most depressing and contradicts the Horizon label that promises cows "make milk the natural way, with access to plenty of fresh air, clean water and exercise." OCA describes one Horizon corporate farm:

At a Horizon dairy farm in central Idaho, the cows don't look that happy. Four thousand cows live in a stark landscape of sagebrush fields, long silver barns and open-air sheds. Jammed in crowded pens atop the hardpan of the Idaho desert, the cows are fed a diet of alfalfa, hay, grains and soy, all certified organic. Only occasionally do they eat fresh grass.

The USDA has responded by tightening organic standards, well sort of. Treehugger reports:
New USDA Organic Regulations
The new rules go into effect in June of this year. They state that at least 30 percent of food cows' ingest must come from grazing. If the dairy farm is located in a mild climate like California, cows will be expected to graze even more than the 120 days mandated as a minimum by law. Organic beef standards will also be tightened. Organic cattle, goats, buffalo, and sheep must be able to graze as well. Although in the last four months of life, certain diet regulations can be eliminated.
Personally, I don't feel these standards go far enough. 30% does not ensure the animals do not spend the majority of their time in feedlot situations.

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Posted by Jennifer Lance at February 18, 2010 1:20 AM

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