Certifier gives brief look at organic rules

SALEM, Ohio – The rules for organic certification fill several booklets, but the gist of most of them is to treat the cows humanely, said organic certifier Stephen Sears.
One of the major tenets of organic dairying is to be sure the cows have access to pastureyear-round, he said.
Young stock can be kept inside to protect them against sickness and the cattle can be brought indoors during inclement weather. But that doesn’t mean you can keep your animals locked inside all winter, Sears said.
Practices like tail docking are prohibited unless it’s for the animals’ own benefit, he said. Just because the tails swish into your face while you milk isn’t enough reason to dock them.
Growth hormones and antibiotics are also barred on organic dairies and for the 12 months prior to certification.
But if a cow is sick and cannot be cured organically, you can’t just let her die, Sears said. She must be treated with antibiotics to save her life and then must leave the farm permanently, he said.
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