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‘FINALLY’: Pingree Hails Long-Awaited Finalization of USDA Livestock Rule

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today released the following statement regarding the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s finalization of Obama-era Origin of Livestock rule, which levels the playing field for organic dairy farmers, thus protecting the integrity of the organic label:

“Finally, family-run organic farms will not be harmed by unfair loopholes in USDA’s livestock rules. The pandemic only exacerbated the tremendous obstacles and hardships organic dairy farmers have experienced, so this long-awaited rule couldn’t come a moment too soon. 

“Under President Obama, a new USDA rule was proposed to close the loopholes around the transitioning of conventual dairy cows into organic production, but was never finalized. Failure to close these loopholes has contributed to an oversupply of milk in the market, depressed organic dairy prices, and diminished consumer confidence in the organic label as a whole.

“As a longtime organic farmer, I know how important it is to have meaningful, well-defined standards for organic livestock and poultry, and while I’m disappointed it took nearly seven years for the rule to be finalized, I’m thrilled that at last farmers will have the clarity they need. Finalization of this rule will support organic producers, preserve the viability of the sector, and safeguard consumer trust in the organic label.”


For years, the organic community has asked for clarity on standards relating to the origin of organic livestock. Some organic certifiers are currently allowing dairy animals to be continuously transitioned in and out of organic production, while other certifiers correctly enforce the one-time transition of livestock. The Origin of Livestock proposed rule, developed under the Obama Administration in 2015, would have clarified that continuous transition of non-organic livestock into organic production is prohibited. The proposed rule, which was withdrawn during the Trump administration, would have leveled the playing field for organic dairy farmers, thus protecting the integrity of the organic label.

Pingree has led several bipartisan efforts in urging the USDA to finalize the Origin of Livestock rule in recent years. In October 2021, Pingree pressed USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack during a House Agriculture Committee hearing about the agency’s timetable for finalizing the rule.


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