Position Paper: Organic Feedlot/Grass-based Beef

April 6th, 2010

When the USDA released its “pasture rule” in February 2010, the rule included an exemption for organic ruminant “slaughter stock,” such as a beef cattle and bison, from obtaining 30% of their feed from pasture during the last 4 months of their lives.

To gain a deeper understanding of current practices in the organic beef industry, Cornucopia surveyed organic beef producers across the nation. Based on this research, Cornucopia proposed a three-tiered labeling system for organic meat from ruminants. The results of the survey, and proposed labeling system, are outlined in the 2010 position paper.

In May 2011, the USDA issued a notice that the exemption for ruminant slaughter stock would remain in the final rule. While organic producers are required to maintain their organic ruminants on pasture during the grazing season, they are not required to ensure that at least 30% of the animals’ feed is obtained from grazing.

The final rule can be accessed at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2011-05-10/pdf/2011-11013.pdf

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