USDA eliminates animal welfare rule for organic meat, poultry

Trump axes Obama-era rule on organic farming

The rule covered animal care from production practices to transport, slaughter and living conditions for organic livestock and poultry.

The US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has made a decision to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule to the dismay of stakeholders in the organic agriculture industry.

The rule, which was scheduled to go into effect in May after a decision by the Obama administration, would have required that poultry animals be in cages large enough for the animals to move freely and stretch their wings and livestock be given access to outdoor spaces year round.

Conventional livestock and poultry groups have fiercely opposed the rule, citing health threats to animals and the public. The Trump administration is withdrawing federal rules that would require organic meat and egg producers to abide by stricter animal-welfare standards. Trust in the organic seal depended on it, some advocates insisted. The department said imposing new requirements would discourage farmers from obtaining organic certification. The OTA argues that USDA chose to roll back the livestock and poultry rules without consulting the National Organic Standards Board.

In 2016, under Obama, the USDA proposed the requirements in an attempt to increase confidence among consumers about what it means when food products carry an "organic" label. "It makes no sense that the Trump administration would pursue actions that could damage a marketplace that is giving American farmers a profitable alternative, creating jobs and improving the economies of our rural areas".

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams. "Secretary Sonny Perdue deserves a lot of credit for yet another common-sense decision that will benefit America's cattle producers".

"The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective", said Greg Ibach, USDA marketing and regulatory program undersecretary. In a press release, it stated that the USDA had "without regard for public comment and without respect for legal authorities - irresponsibly thwarted a fully vetted regulation overwhelmingly supported by the organic industry and the public. This latest action by USDA will only invigorate and solidify more support for this regulation".

The Organic Trade Association contends there is overwhelming support for the rule by the organic industry and consumers. The USDA has also ignored comments from key members of Congress that contradict the agency's recently-formed interpretation.

USDA delayed implementation twice after that and announced in December its intentions to withdraw the rule. "When USDA fails to do this, it is time for the organic community to insist that it live up to its responsibility". NCBA President Kevin Kester said the rule would have vilified producers raising non-organic livestock.

The rule refines and clarifies a series of organic animal welfare recommendations incorporated into the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which established the federal organic regulations.

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