WASHINGTON – On May 11, the National Organic Program announced a final rule that provides new options for organic livestock producers to restore animal health in emergency medical situations. The rule will be published May 15 and will be effective May 16.

Under the rule, the use of two parasiticides is being allowed — fenbendazole and moxidectin — in organic livestock production as emergency treatment for breeder and dairy stock when approved preventive management fails to prevent parasite infestation. However, the synthetic substances will not be allowed for organic slaughter stock. Milk and milk products from a treated organic animal may not be labeled as organic for 90 days following treatment.

Organic regulations from USDA prohibit routine use of synthetic parasiticides. Organic livestock producers are responsible for managing parasites through practices specified in their organic system plans, including selection of disease resistant breeds, rotational grazing and culling of susceptible animals.

“Permitting these substances provides a safeguard for organic producers when all other preventive measures fail,” said Miles McEvoy, director of the National Organic Program. “The realities of raising live animals require us to account for such emergency situations, particularly when it’s necessary to relieve pain and suffering that can be caused by infestation. The rule clearly reflects the National Organic Standards Board’s position that these parasiticides are options to be used sparingly as part of an integrated system of animal health care.”

The action by the National Organic Program puts into place recommendations by the National Organic Standards Board, an independent federal advisory committee comprising four organic producers, two handlers, three environmentalists, three consumer representatives, one certifier, one retailer and one scientist.

Already published in the Federal Register, the final rule is available for view at www.regulations.gov under keyword or ID “AMS-NOP-10-0078; NOP-09-03FR.” View the full text of the rule as well as a synopsis of public comments at www.regulations.gov.

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and National Organic Program regulations prohibit the use of any synthetic substance in organic production and handling unless the substance is on the National List, a subpart of the USDA’s organic standards that identifies synthetic substances that may and nonsynthetic (natural) substances that may not be used in organic production.

Allowing use of these substances is based on the board’s technical review to ensure their compatibility with sustainable agriculture, minimal adverse impact on the environment and on humans and essentialness to organic production with consideration of alternative, biologically-based substances. Substances made allowable per the final rule published are reflected in the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

The National Organic Program of the US Department of Agriculture facilitates trade and ensures integrity of organic agricultural products by consistently implementing the organic standards and enforcing compliance with the regulations.