Organic Systems Plan and Record Keeping Requirements for Organic Dairy and Livestock in the United States

eOrganic author:

Jim Riddle, University of Minnesota

Organic Systems Plan Requirements

In order to be certified, §205.201 of the National Organic Program (NOP) final rule (United States Department of Agriculture [USDA], 2000) requires that all organic dairy and livestock producers complete Organic System Plans that:

  • Describe their production practices;
  • List and describe all substances used and planned for use by the operation;
  • Describe the monitoring practices used to assure that the operation follows the requirements;
  • Describe their recordkeeping system;
  • Describe steps taken to prevent contamination or commingling; and
  • Provide other information requested by the certification agency.

Record Keeping Requirements

Section 205.103 requires that all organic operations, including livestock and dairy producers, must maintain records that:

  1. disclose all activities and transactions;
  2. are auditable;
  3. demonstrate compliance with all applicable requirements;
  4. are maintained for at least five years; and
  5. are made available to organic inspectors and certification agencies.

In addition, §205.236(c) requires that "the producer of an organic livestock operation must maintain records sufficient to preserve the identity of all organically managed animals and edible and non-edible animal products produced on the operation," (USDA, 2000). This means that all organic animals must be tagged, named, grouped in flocks, or otherwise identified, with corresponding records maintained of all health events and medications or activities; all feeds and feed supplements purchased and consumed for all stages of life; housing and pasture rotations; etc. Records must also be maintained of all products produced, including meat, milk, eggs, wool, and so forth.

For further information, see Organic System Plan Overview.

References and Citations


Published January 21, 2009

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.