Local is still best because you can ask the farmer what their practices are, but for those times that buying milk/eggs/meat from the store happens, many of us reach for the certified organic option to have some sense of the practices of the growers. Until now, the certified organic label in regards to animals being outside on pasture only meant that the animals needed to have access to pasture, and didn’t quantify or qualify what that might mean. So updated rules in this arena are welcome:
- Animals must graze pasture during the grazing season, which must be at least 120 days per year;
- Animals must obtain a minimum of 30 percent dry matter intake from grazing pasture during the grazing season;
- Producers must have a pasture management plan and manage pasture as a crop to meet the feed requirements for the grazing animals and to protect soil and water quality; and,
- Livestock are exempt from the 30 percent dry matter intake requirements during the finish feeding period, not to exceed 120 days. Livestock must have access to pasture during the finishing phase.