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Newsletter of Penn Dutch Cow Care December 2008

Hi Folks,

Since the USDA proposed pasture rule is such a major item, I plan to address it again in this newsletter. However, it is not so much me writing as it will be me inserting what the Northeast Organic Dairy Producer Association (NODPA) and their Midwest and Western cousin associations (MODPA, WODPA) have developed in response to the rule. This represents more than 1000 certified organic dairy farms across the U.S. Other organizations also joined in to help edit and clarify things from the original proposal. Feel free to use any of the suggested changes in any comments you submit to the USDA.

ANDthere will be an official USDA Listening Session regarding the proposed standards changes in Gap on Thursday Dec.11 from 9:30 AM – 12:30 PM at the newly built Family Center of Gap. This is located off Rt. 30, about 1 mile west of where PA 772 ends at the stoplight at Rt 30 and just past White Chimneys. Entrance is directly across the road from Black Horse Animal Hospital (enter onto Brackbill Road and go back long lane). Richard Mathews of the USDA will be there to give a presentation and listen to comments. By going to the Listening Session and officially speaking in person, you would not need to write a letter. But, you could do both.

Remember that the deadline for submitting written or electronic comment is Dec. 23. If you hand write a letter, send to:
Richard H. Mathews, Chief, Standards Development and Review Branch
National Organic Program, Transportation and Marketing Programs, USDA-AMS-TMP-NOP
1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 4008–So., Ag Stop 0268
Washington, DC 20250.
Internet: see the website    www.regulations.gov.
>>> Written comments on this proposed rule should be identified with the docket number:
AMS-TM-06-0198; TM-05-14.

If you still have last month’s Moo News, go get it and read it side by side with this month’s to follow the proposed changes by the FOOD farmers since there will be terms added or deleted that tie to the proposed USDA changes shown in last month’s newsletter.

FOOD Farmers suggested deletions and additions to NOP’s wording is indicated by bold italics. FOOD Farmers suggested new terms with definitions also have (new) in front of them.

DEFINITIONS (proposed additions or deletions to USDA document)
(new)Class of animal. A group of livestock that shares a similar stage of life or production.

(new) Dry matter demand. The expected dry matter intake for a class of animal.

(new) Dry matter intake: Total pounds of all feed, devoid of all moisture, consumed by a class of animals over a given period of time.

Dry lot. A fenced area that may be covered with concrete, but that has little or no vegetative cover.

Feedlot. A drylot for the controlled feeding of ruminants.

(FOOD Farmers create the term Grazing Season and suggest deleting the term Growing Season. Grazing Season is defined next)
(new) Grazing season. The grazing season is when pasture plants are available, due to natural precipitation or irrigation, for ruminants to graze. Grazing season dates may vary because
of mid-summer heat / humidity, significant precipitation events, floods, hurricanes, droughts. Grazing season may be extended by the grazing of residual pasture as agreed in the organic systems plan. Due to weather, season, and climate, the grazing season may or may not be continuous. The grazing season for organic production shall be not less than 120 days.

Inclement weather. Weather that is violent, or characterized by temperatures (high or low), that
can kill or cause physical harm to a given species of livestock. Production yields or
growth rates lower than the maximum achievable do not qualify as physical harm.
(Food Farmers propose deleting the term Killing Frost and its definition)

Sacrificial pasture. A pasture or pastures within the pasture system, of sufficient size to accommodate all animals in the herd without crowding, where animals are kept for short
periods during saturated soil conditions to confine pasture damage to an area where potential environmental impacts can be controlled; or where animals are kept in the non-grazing season to provide access to the outdoors. This pasture is then deferred from grazing until it has been restored through active pasture management. Sacrificial pastures are located where soils have good trafficability, are well-drained, have low risk of soil erosion, have low or no potential of manure runoff, are surrounded by vegetated areas, and are easily restored.; It is not a dry lot or feedlot.
(new) Shelter. Structures such as barns, sheds, or windbreaks, or natural areas such as woods,
tree lines, or geographic land features that provide physical protection and / or housing to
(new) Stage of life. (Needs to be defined)
(new) Yard / feeding pad. An improved area for feeding, exercising, and outdoor access for
livestock during the non grazing season and a high traffic area where animals may receive
supplemental feeding during the grazing season.
(FOOD Farmers do not want USDA addressing Origin of Livestock in this document)

§ 205.237 Livestock feed.
(b) The producer of an organic operation
must not: Prevent, withhold, restrain, or otherwise restrict ruminant animals from actively obtaining feed grazed from pasture during the grazing season, except for conditions as described under § 205.239(c).
205.237 (c) During the grazing season, producers shall provide not more than an average of 70 percent of a ruminant’s dry matter demand from dry matter fed (dry matter fed does not include dry matter
grazed from vegetation rooted in pasture or mowed and left in the pasture to be grazed).
(1) Each class of ruminants over 6 months of age shall receive, at a minimum, an average of 30% of their dry matter demand from pasture for the entire grazing season, which shall be
not less than 120 days.
(2) Except that, ruminant slaughter stock that are typically grain finished to meet consumer expectations may be exempt from the 30% pasture DMI requirement during the finishing period, not to exceed 120 days, but must not be denied access to pasture during that
(3) Grazing season must be described in the operation’s organic system plan and be approved by the certifier as being representative of the typical grazing season duration for the particular area. Certifiers, in reviewing the organic system plan, shall confirm that adequate fields are set aside for pasture to provide grazing for ruminants for the entire grazing season, not just for the 120 day minimum. Irrigation must be used as needed to promote pasture growth when an operation has it available for use on crops.
(d) Producers shall, as part of their organic systems plan, document all feed rations for all species and classes of animals. For ruminants, documentation shall be maintained of changes that are made to all rations throughout the year in response to seasonal grazing changes such that records can verify the feeding requirements of 205.237(c).
(FOOD Farmers recommends removing methods to calculate DMI. Instead they would like to see guidance in this area and not regulatory wording.)

§ 205.239 Livestock living conditions.
(a) The producer of an organic livestock operation must establish and maintain year-round livestock living conditions which accommodate the health and natural behavior of animals, including those listed in paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(4) of this section. Producers shall also provide:
(1) Year-round access for all animals to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air, water for drinking and direct sunlight suitable to the species, its
stage of life production, the climate, and the environment, except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b) of this section. Continuous, total confinement in dry lots and feedlots
is prohibited.
(2) For all ruminants, provision of pasture throughout the grazing season to meet the requirements of 205.237 except as otherwise provided in paragraph (c) of this section
(3) Appropriate clean, dry bedding. When crop matter typically fed to the animal species is used as bedding, it must comply with the feed requirements of §205.237. Genetically modified crop
matter must not be used as bedding;
(4) Shelter, as needed and appropriate to the species, designed to allow for: (i) Natural maintenance, comfort behaviors, and opportunity to exercise; (ii) Temperature level, ventilation, and air circulation suitable to the species; and (iii) Reduction of potential for livestock injury;
(b) The producer of an organic livestock operation may provide temporary confinement and shelter for an animal because of:
(1) Inclement weather and conditions caused by inclement weather; (2) The animal's stage of life. Lactation is not a stage of life that would exempt ruminants from any of the mandates set forth in this regulation; (3) Conditions under which the health, safety, or well being of the animal could be jeopardized; or (4) Risk to soil or water quality.
(c) The producer of an organic livestock operation may temporarily deny a ruminant animal pasture or outdoor access under the following conditions: (1) When the animal is segregated for the day of breeding or preventive health care practice, the treatment of illness or injury (the various life stages, such as lactation, are not an illness or injury); (2) One week at the end of a lactation for dry off, two weeks prior to parturition (birthing), parturition, and up to one
week after parturition; (3) In the case of newborns for up to six months, after which they must be on pasture during the grazing season and may no longer be individually housed; ( 4) In the case of sheep, for short periods for shearing; and (5) In the case of dairy animals, for short periods daily for milking. Milking must be scheduled in a manner to ensure sufficient grazing time to provide each animal with an average dry matter intake from grazing of not less than 30 percent
throughout the grazing season. Milking frequencies or duration practices cannot be used to
deny dairy animals pasture.

(FOOD Farmers suggest that a lot of the Pasture Practice Standard be Guidance. What shows below is what FOOD Farmers suggest staying in the new Pasture Practice Standard)

§205.240 Pasture practice standard.
The producer of an organic livestock operation must, for all ruminant livestock on the operation,
demonstrate through auditable records in the organic system plan, a functioning management
plan for pasture that meets all requirements of §§ 205.200 - 205.240.
(a) Pasture must be managed as a crop in full compliance with §§ 205.200 through
(b) A pasture plan for inclusion containing at least the following information must be included in the producer’s organic system plan, which may consist of the certifier’s farm and livestock questionnaires, and be updated annually when any changes are made. The pasture plan must show the following:  (1) The types of pasture provided to ensure that the feed requirements of
205.237 are being met; (2) Cultural and management practices to be used to ensure pasture of a sufficient quality and quantity is available to graze throughout the grazing season and to provide all ruminants, except for exempted classes, under the organic systems plan with an average of not  less than 30 percent of their dry matter intake from grazing throughout the grazing season;
(3)Description of the grazing season.
(4) The location of pastures including maps giving each field its own identity; (5) The types of grazing methods to be used in the pasture system; (6) The location and types of fences, except for temporary fences, and the location and source of shade and water; (7) The soil fertility, seeding, and crop rotation systems.
 (c) The pasture system may include a sacrificial pasture for grazing, to protect the other pastures from excessive damage during periods when saturated soil conditions render the pasture(s) too wet for animals to graze; and for outdoor access in the non-grazing season.
(d) In addition to the above, producers must manage pasture to comply with all applicable requirements of §§ 205.236 - 205.239.

FOOD Farmers comment: Add the following pasture practice standard to guidance:
At no time during the grazing season, when any class of ruminant receives less than 30% of
their dry matter intake from grazing, except for exempted classes, shall the operation
mechanically harvest crops from its pastures.
If you agree with all or some of the above changes that FOOD Farmers made to the Proposed Pasture Rule and you want to make a really simple written comment, you could simply copy (or parts thereof) what has been shown in this newsletter.

Better yet is to read these positive changes that put COMMON SENSE into the proposed rule change and then come to the Listening Session in Gap on Thursday Dec. 11, 9:30AM – 12:30 PM. See directions on the first page.   Either way – GET INVOLVED as it is YOUR FARM that will be impacted by new USDA regulations for pasturing of organic dairy cows and heifers.

You can call your MILK PROCESSOR with any questions you have regarding the proposed rule change or getting to the Listening Session. There will have only been 6 Listening Sessions across the USA and Gap, PA is one of them! Deadline for any commenting is December 23rd. After this deadline, enjoy a Merry Christmas and remember the true reason for the season – the birth of Baby Jesus who came to the world in order that we may no longer live for ourselves but for Him.


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