“To obtain and maintain an organic certification, meticulous record keeping is a must,” shared Joe Engelbert of Engelbert Farms. “All dairy farms keep some of the necessary records, such as animal identification or health records. However, we (organic dairies) must be able to prove receipts for the proper seed and amount for the inspected acres, as well as account for how much feed was removed from every field, where it was stored, and what we did with it.”
“Another key to certification is compliance with the pasture rule, which requires all animals over 6 months of age to derive a minimum of 30 percent of their daily dry matter intake from pasture during the grazing season,” explained the organic operator who dairies with his brother John Engelbert in Nichols, N.Y.
This meticulous attention to record keeping is an important part of maintaining organic certification, according to the four farms that shared insights on organic dairy production in this Hoard’s Dairyman Intel as well as the Round Table found on pages 46 to 48 of the January 25 issue of Hoard’s Dairyman.
Here are additional responses to the question, “How long has your operation been organic, and what’s required to maintain certification?”
Flood Dairy, Oakfield, Wis.: We have been certified organic since May 2010 and started the transition process three years prior. We started out as conventional and switched because we liked the idea of being organic and liked the fact that it had history of a more stable price.
Hidden Valley Dairy, Paul, Idaho: Several things influenced us to switch from conventional to organic, one being price. The other being a fire in 2000 that put our land out of commission for growing row crops. A Horizon plant was only 8 miles down the road and had been visiting with us about organics. It just seemed the right time and right fit to do it. Record keeping is the most time-consuming change we made in order to maintain certification.
Nature’s Way Dairy, Portales, N.M.: The first step in organic certification is writing an OSP (Organic Systems Plan), which outlines how the operation will be managed. Included in this OSP will be a list of materials to be used on the operation for approval. A physical inspection of the property and livestock is also completed.
To maintain our organic certification, we must keep meticulous records on all aspects of our operation. Our OSP is a living document, and we amend it as well as request additional approved materials throughout the year. An annual audit of our operation as well as a physical inspection of our operation and our records are required to maintain and recertify Nature's Way Dairy as an organic dairy.
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