We believe that allowing animals to carry out natural behaviors in the best possible living conditions is an essential part of organic farming.
Cows are ruminants. This means that they are designed to eat grass. The bucolic vision of cows peacefully munching verdant pastures is not the agricultural norm, but it is ours on the member farms of Organic Valley cooperative. (See our pasture policy.)
Whenever it is seasonally appropriate, our cows are provided with access to pasture. Compelling research shows that this leads to healthier cows and healthier milk.
As of February, 2010, the USDA National Organic Program has introduced new, solid pasturing standards for organic farms. As leaders and pioneers in the organic industry, the farmers of Organic Valley implemented standards for its own members in 1995. The cooperative has always advocated for strong, across-the-board pasturing standards in the organic standards. We will continue working to protect the requirements, because we know consumers expect healthy animals and humane care.
As former head of the Livestock Committee for the National Organic Standards Board, George Siemon has worked with farmers around the country to craft a guidance document for recommended pasturing practices. We firmly believe this guideline should be considered as an integral part of any organic livestock system.
The grass is definitely greener on our side of the fence.