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Must anti-biotic treated cows be removed from the organic farm?

by Brett Bakker

(Thursday, Oct. 3, 2002 -- CropChoice guest commentary) -- I read with interest David Kline's report on his situation regarding antibiotics, his dairy herd ( 9/20/02) and the NOP -- http://www.cropchoice.com/leadstry.asp?recid=982

As the Chief Inspector for the New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission, I am wondering who Mr Kline's Certificiation Agency is and why he was told that he must remove antibiotic-treated cows from the farm.

Any reasonable interpretation of the NOP policy shows that any animals may be treated with antibiotic as their owner sees fit but IF so treated, they MUST be removed from the ORGANIC herd, not necessarily from the farm. As well, that treatment MUST be documented and the animal somehow tagged or notched to prevent it from being milked or slaughtered along with the organic herd.

A similar situation is that organic farmers may use prohibited fertilizers, pest controls etc on any portion of the farm not under the organic program, the homeplace rose garden or lawn for instance. In other words, as a Certifier, our concern and authority only applies to areas that impact the organic operations, land, animals, etc. while of course being mindful of drift, contamination or commingling.

I'm very curious as to who told Mr Kline this bit of information. As an inspector, of course I may not counsel the inspected party. However if i have NOT personally inspected a particular farm it is my job and responsibility (while wearing my other hat as Chief Compliance Officer) to help (as appropriate) any farm through the ever-more complicated NOP compliant Certification process. I would hope that other agencies feel the same.

Brett Bakker can be reached at:

New Mexico Organic Commodity Commission
516 Chama St NE Room D
Albuquerque NM 87108
fax 266-0649