Access to Pasture Rule New and Revised Definitions

eOrganic author:

Debra Heleba, University of Vermont Extension


With the creation of the Access to Pasture Rule, the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) added and/or revised several terms to the NOP regulations. Definitions of these terms appear below; all terms can be found on the Final Rule at § 205.2 Terms defined under Subpart A--Definitions, Title 7: Agriculture, Part 205--National Organic Program.

Definition of Terms

Crop. Pastures, cover crops, green manure crops, catch crops, or any plant or part of a plant intended to be marketed as an agricultural product, fed to livestock, or used in the field to manage nutrients and soil fertility.

Class of Animal. A group of livestock that shares a similar stage of life or production. The classes of animals are those that are commonly listed on feed labels.

Dry Lot. A fenced area that may be covered with concrete, but that has little or no vegetative cover.

Dry Matter. The amount of a feedstuff remaining after all the free moisture is evaporated out.

Dry Matter Demand (DMD). The expected dry matter intake for a class of animal.

Dry Matter Intake (DMI). Total pounds of all feed, devoid of all moisture, consumed by a class of animals over a given period of time.

Feed. Edible materials which are consumed by livestock for their nutritional value. Feed may be concentrates (grains) or roughages (hay, silage, fodder). The term, "feed," encompasses all agricultural commodities, including pasture ingested by livestock for nutritional purposes.

Feedlot. A dry lot for the controlled feeding of livestock.

Forage. Vegetative material in a fresh, dried, or ensiled state (pasture, hay, or silage), which is fed to livestock.

Graze. (1) The consumption of standing or residual forage by livestock. (2) To put livestock to feed on standing or residual forage.

Grazing. To graze.

Grazing Season. The period of time when pasture is available for grazing, due to natural precipitation or irrigation. Grazing season dates may vary because of mid-summer heat/humidity, significant precipitation events, floods, hurricanes, droughts or winter weather events. Grazing season may be extended by the grazing of residual forage as agreed in the operation's organic system plan. Due to weather, season, or climate, the grazing season may or may not be continuous. Grazing season may range from 120 days to 365 days, but not less than 120 days per year.

Inclement Weather. Weather that is violent, or characterized by temperatures (high or low), or characterized by excessive precipitation that can cause physical harm to a given species of livestock. Production yields or growth rates of livestock lower than the maximum achievable do not qualify as physical harm.

Livestock. Any cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, or equine animals used for food or in the production of food, fiber, feed, or other agricultural-based consumer products; wild or domesticated game; or other nonplant life, except such term shall not include aquatic animals for the production of food, fiber, feed, or other agricultural-based consumer products.

Pasture. Land used for livestock grazing that is managed to provide feed value and maintain or improve soil, water, and vegetative resources.

Residual Forage. Forage cut and left to lie, or windrowed and left to lie, in place in the pasture.

Shelter. Structures such as barns, sheds, or windbreaks; or natural areas such as woods, tree lines, large hedge rows, or geographic land features, that are designed or selected to provide physical protection or housing to all animals.

Stage of Life. A discrete time period in an animal's life which requires specific management practices different than during other periods (e.g., poultry during feathering). Breeding, freshening, lactation and other recurring events are not a stage of life.

Temporary and Temporarily. Occurring for a limited time only (e.g., overnight, throughout a storm, during a period of illness, the period of time specified by the Administrator when granting a temporary variance), not permanent or lasting.

Yards / Feeding Pad. An area for feeding, exercising, and outdoor access for livestock during the non-grazing season and a high traffic area where animals may receive supplemental feeding during the grazing season.

References and Citations

Published August 16, 2010

This is an eOrganic article and was reviewed for compliance with National Organic Program regulations by members of the eOrganic community. Always check with your organic certification agency before adopting new practices or using new materials. For more information, refer to eOrganic's articles on organic certification.