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What is Organic Milk? It’s one of the most frequently asked questions on a2 Milk® social pages and our consumer hotline. So we thought it was worth addressing.
Organic Milk is milk produced according to the USDA organic regulations (7 CFR §205). This is a lengthy document that outlines all the steps farmers must go through before they can apply for and be audited for USDA Organic Certification (that means they can use the USDA Organic Seal). Farms working toward achieving organic certification must keep detailed records and pay for an audit of their farm practices by a USDA-accredited certifier.
Note: a2 Milk® is not organic. Our farmers are Validus certified which is a third-party animal welfare auditing group and have invested greatly in establishing herds that produce milk with only the A2 protein. We are committed to providing our customers with a high-quality product and only use milk from cows not treated with antibiotics, growth hormones or rBST.
Organic farming is just that, a way of farming. The truth is that dairy farmers, whether conventional or organic, rely on cows for their livelihood. Farmers who seek organic certification, invest a significant amount of time and money to achieve that status. Other farmers follow most of these same guidelines but don’t spend the money for the organic seal.
More importantly, to date, organic milk has not been shown to be safer or have a better nutrition profile than regular milk. In fact, the organic milk available in the US contains the A1 protein.
The land used to raise organic cows for milk production must have been free-from any “prohibited substances” for at least three years before bringing cows to the farm. Prohibited substances include synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers, among other things.
Cows that will be used for organic milk production must have lived on an organic farm and be fed organic feed for a minimum of one year before their milk is used for organic milk or other organic dairy foods.
Organic milk comes from cows who eat a 100% certified organic diet. That means, all the feed is from farms who are also certified organic by USDA-accredited certifiers. Organic feed must be grown without the use of GMOs, synthetic pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. In addition, the pastures where the cows graze must be certified organic.
Organic farmers are required to use preventative health care practices and may only use approved treatments.
a. Preventative health care practices include:
b. No antibiotics are ever used on organic cows.
c. Hormones are never used to increase milk production or for reproduction.
Organic farmers must provide cows with clean housing that has adequate ventilation and plenty of clean water. Organic cows have year-round access to fresh air and direct sunlight.
Organic cows are required to have access to pasture throughout the grazing season (which depends on the region) and rules state that it can’t be less than 120 days per the calendar year.