We want to share a very interesting article about the wide range of conditions under which chicken farmers may claim that their products are “organic”. Have you ever wondered exactly what standards are applied in order to claim that your chicken is organic?
It seems there is some debate, even inside the organic farming community, and the USDA is being asked to referee the results. THIS ARTICLE examines the details of issues for the debate such as:
How much “pasture time” is required in order to support claims of organic conditions?
Can chickens raised outside on concrete floor conditions… still get the same label as chickens who are allowed to run outside and peck things on the ground?
Are two chickens being raised the same, if one of them is kept in crowded conditions with other chickens pushing on them and the other has room to run around?
Does a hard surface patio provide a superior environment to keep chickens clean and healthy…. or is it somehow skirting the spirit of the law requiring outdoors access to “natural” behavior? Which choices… or range of choices… allow farmers to develop cost-effective methods for organic chicken production?
We look forward to continuing spirited debates on the definition of “organic” as it applies to all types of Virginia farm products… animals, vegetables, and fruit. What will consumers support? What will Virginia farmers choose?
Currently framing the choices for organic farming… are rules from the USDA which supply the definitions for raising and labeling food products. Labeling is just as important as the methods used for “raising”, because it can define how the products may be sold. Here’s a link to the National Organic Program which oversees the labeling/definition process. And here you see the full list of USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) label definitions regarding fowl for consumers.