The USDA issued new rules Friday on what it means to be an organic cow. Before Friday, to be considered organic, a cow had to have “access” to pasture. “That left a loophole for some dairies that would put cows out to pasture only during periods when the animals were not giving milk or would feed their animals almost exclusively on grain or other feeds,” the New York Times reported.
The new rules say that cattle must graze on pasture during the grazing season, which must be at least 120 days a year. Animals must get a minimum of 30 percent dry matter intake from grazing (with exemptions during the finish feeding period, which is not to exceed 120 days).
“The proposal had created discord in the organic dairy world, with large operations like Aurora seeking less-restrictive rulings,” reports Grist. “Most small and mid-sized dairies rallied round the proposal.” Aurora runs 15,000 cows on five farms in Colorado and Texas. The average organic dairy has 108 cows.