October 2008

This alert is over.

New Rules Could Force Organic Family Livestock Farmers Out of Business

After eight years of political debate, legal wrangling and protests within the organic community the USDA on October 23 finally published a draft rule intended to clamp down on giant factory farms milking thousands of cows that have been abusing the spirit and letter of federal organic law by primarily confining their cattle to feedlots.

The USDA could have made minor regulatory language changes to the current rule that would have clarified and forced the grazing of cattle. Instead, the USDA completely rewrote the complicated organic livestock standards without input from the organic community or the National Organic Standards Board. And they have given the organic community – farmers, consumers, retailers and processors – just 60 days to digest the sweeping changes and submit comments to government regulators.

While the draft rule that the USDA presented would effectively clamp down on factory farm scofflaws, it would also probably put out of business the majority of all family-scale livestock farmers in the United States. This is unacceptable.

  • Read the Action Alert from The Cornucopia Institute on this issue.
  • Read the official USDA announcement of the rulemaking, including analysis, as printed in the Federal Register.
  • View recommended livestock/pasture rule language changes developed by a consortium of public interest groups representing organic farmers and consumers (including The Cornucopia Institute and FOOD Farmers).
  • Send a letter to the USDA with comments and suggested changes to the livestock/pasture rule. Use this letter as a model.

Please stay tuned for further updates from us. It is incredibly important that we get this rule right as the future of so many ethical organic livestock producers, as well as access to legitimately produced organic food products, are at stake.