Livestock Producers - Going Organic? Two USDA Guides Answer Questions

Mar 27, 2013

Livestock producers, have you been thinking about going organic? From previous

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marketing studies, done as part of the Meat Industry Capacity and Feasibility Study of the North Coast Region of California, we know that it's possible to command a 30 percent or more price increase for organic meat products (see page vi of Executive Summary at As those producers who are in this market niche will tell you, however, it is not an easy endeavor to become organic.

Fortunately for those of you wanting to try, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has two documents that are beneficial to read. The first, published in November of 2012, is entitled Guide for Organic Livestock ProducersIt may be found at A second fact sheet entitled Organic Livestock Requirements was released in February of 2013 and is available at

This second publication is especially useful in spelling out the requirements for grazing ruminants. It even has a link ( that will take you to the newly revised National Organic Program Standards Handbook and in it you will find links to help you calculate the dry matter intake (DMI) requirements for access to pasture

In addition, you may find the following link very useful to help you decide if organic production is for you.

By John M Harper
Author - Livestock & Natural Resources Advisor - Emeritus