Last week the United States Senate Agriculture Committee passed the Agriculture Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2020. In the bill, USDA is required to issue the Origin of Livestock rule that incorporates public comments from the proposal rule within 180 days of the bill becoming law. The language matches a House of Representatives bill that passed in June, showing bipartisan congressional support for the rule.
The Origin of Livestock rule was based on six recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board and clarified and amended the requirements for how dairy producers can obtain organic certification for their herds. The proposed rule specified that producers can transition dairy animals into organic production once, and that any new dairy animals added to an organic dairy farm would need to be managed organically from the last third of gestation or be animals from organic dairy farms that have already completed their transition.
Late last year, CCOF members signed a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue and National Organic Program leadership urging them to publish a final rule on Origin of Livestock. CCOF also sent a letter to California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris about supporting organic agriculture in the fiscal year 2020 Agriculture Appropriations bill by funding organic programs to their authorized levels and by supporting bill language requiring USDA to issue a final rule on Organic of Livestock.
The inclusion of Origin of Livestock in both Senate and House spending bills is a positive sign that hopefully will bring the rule into fruition. Congress will likely pass a short-term spending bill to prevent a government shutdown. From there, the entire Senate will vote on appropriation bills and the House and Senate will meet to reconcile any budget differences before sending a bill to the president for signature.