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Organic Livestock Producers Have New Options for Animal Health Emergencies

AMS No. 095-12

Soo Kim (202) 591-5631

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2012--The National Organic Program announced a final rule today providing new options for organic livestock producers to restore animal health in emergency medical situations. The rule will be published May 15, 2012, and will be effective one day after publication.

The rule allows the use of two parasiticides—fenbendazole and moxidectin—in organic livestock production as emergency treatment for dairy and breeder stock when approved preventive management fails to prevent parasite infestation. The synthetic substances will not be allowed for organic slaughter stock. Milk and milk products from a treated organic animal may not be labeled as organic for 90 days following treatment.

The USDA organic regulations prohibit the routine use of synthetic parasiticides. Organic livestock producers are first and foremost responsible for managing parasites through practices specified in their organic system plans, including selection of disease resistant breeds, rotational grazing and culling of susceptible animals.

“Permitting these substances provides a safeguard for organic producers when all other preventive measures fail,” said Miles McEvoy, director of the National Organic Program. “The realities of raising live animals require us to account for such emergency situations, particularly when it’s necessary to relieve pain and suffering that can be caused by infestation. The rule clearly reflects the National Organic Standards Board’s position that these parasiticides are options to be used sparingly as part of an integrated system of animal health care.”

The action by the National Organic Program puts into place recommendations by the National Organic Standards Board, an independent federal advisory committee comprising 4 organic producers, 2 handlers, 3 environmentalists, 3 consumer representatives, a certifier, a retailer and a scientist.

The final rule, published in the Federal Register, is available for view at under keyword or ID “AMS-NOP-10-0078; NOP-09-03FR.” The rule considers information and comments gathered upon USDA’s proposal to allow the emergency use of the substances as parasiticides in organic livestock production, published last year with request for comments. View the full text of the rule as well as a synopsis of public comments at

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and National Organic Program regulations specifically prohibit the use of any synthetic substance in organic production and handling unless the substance is on the National List, a subpart of the USDA’s organic standards that identifies synthetic substances that may and nonsynthetic (natural) substances that may not be used in organic production. Allowance of these substances is based on the Board’s technical review to ensure their compatibility with sustainable agriculture, minimal adverse impact on the environment and on humans, and essentialness to organic production with consideration of alternative, biologically-based substances. The substances made allowable per the final rule published today are reflected in the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

The National Organic Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture facilitates trade and ensures integrity of organic agricultural products by consistently implementing the organic standards and enforcing compliance with the regulations.


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  Last Modified Date: 05/11/2012