WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011-The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a notice in the Federal Register today announcing that the National Organic Program (NOP) will not take further actions to amend a provision of the organic standards on ruminant slaughter stock.
As part of the access to pasture final rule for organic livestock, a new provision concerning ruminant slaughter stock (7 CFR § 205.239(d)) was published on February 17, 2010, with request for comments. The final rule established conditions for operations raising ruminant slaughter stock (also called "finish feeding" operations) under the NOP regulations. As codified, during the finishing period, ruminant slaughter stock are exempt from the minimum 30 percent Dry Matter Intake (DMI) grazing requirement that other ruminants must meet under the livestock feed requirements of the NOP regulations. However, the rule requires that producers maintain slaughter stock on pasture for each day that their finishing period overlaps with the grazing season. Additionally, the finishing period is limited to one-fifth (1/5) of the animal's total life or 120 days, whichever is shorter.
Although the access to pasture rule was issued as final, the NOP invited public comments concerning the ruminant slaughter stock provisions specific to infrastructural hurdles and regional differences that USDA should consider; the length of finishing period; and the use of feedlots for finishing organic slaughter stock. In response, the NOP received and evaluated over 500 individual and 14,000 form letter public comments. In addition, the NOP supplemented its analysis with site visits of organic slaughter stock operations in December 2010.
The Federal Register notice published today provides a summary of the comments NOP received and explains the rationale behind a decision to retain the provision as codified. In the notice, the NOP reiterates that operations certified as of February 17, 2010 (the publication date of the rule) must be fully compliant with the rule, including the provision on ruminant slaughter stock, by June 17, 2011. The NOP also states that any organic livestock operations newly seeking certification must be fully compliant with the rule before becoming certified. To read the full Federal Register notice, visit www.regulations.gov (document Number AMS-NOP-11-0030; NOP-11-07) or visit http://1.usa.gov/FinalRuleRuminant.
The NOP is authorized by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990, as amended (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522). The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) administers the NOP. Under the NOP, the AMS oversees national standards for the production, handling, and labeling of organically produced agricultural products. Final regulations implementing the NOP were published December 21, 2000 (65 FR 80548), and became effective on October 21, 2002.
For more information about the notice, contact Melissa Bailey, Ph.D., Director, Standards Division, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 2646-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington DC 20250-0268; telephone: (202) 720-3252; facsimile: (202) 205-7808; or electronic mail: Melissa.Bailey@usda.gov.
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