According to theUSDArules passed on October 22, 2002,certified organicbeef must come from a fully verifiable production system that collects information on the history of every animal in the program, including its breed history, veterinary care, and feed. Further, to be certified as organic, all cattle should meet the following criteria:
Born and raised on certified organic pasture
Never receive antibiotics
Never receive growth-promoting hormones
Are fed only certified organic grains (corn is a grain) and grasses
Must have unrestricted outdoor access
As organic cattle approach market weight, there are two feeding methods that producers most commonly use to deliver beef products to their customers: Grass-Fed and Grain-Fed. In the grass-fed program, the cattle continue to eat certified organic grass right up to the time ofslaughtering. The USDA is currently developing guidelines to define the term Grass-Fed, and it is expected to call for an all grass diet of at least 95%. Strictly grass-fed cattle tend to be leaner than grain-fed. Grain finishing produces cattle with a higher percentage of fat. All grains must be certified organic to ensure the integrity of the program.