Wednesday, 20 November, 2019


USA agriculture department kills animal welfare rule for organic meat

Free-range chickens on grass in yard USA agriculture department kills animal welfare rule for organic meat
Conrad Doyle | 13 March, 2018, 20:34

Finalized under the Obama administration in April 2016, the rule largely dictated how producers and handlers participating in the National Organic Program are required to treat livestock and poultry to ensure their wellbeing.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule exceeds the department's statutory authority.

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.

However, the rules would have raised production costs for organic farmers and saddled them with more paperwork, Republican U.S. Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas said.

In its haste to rationalize its backtracking, the USDA plays up the "costs" of the organics standards, ignoring that the standards are heavily favored by organic producers. "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".

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) slammed the USDA for what it calls "egregious" behavior, and said it would continue to battle the agency in court.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

"The organic industry's continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers", Ibach said.

Last May, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, seeking to communicate his view of the agency's duty to the American people, said, "We owe it to the consumer to let them know we are concerned about their safety and the wholesomeness, nutritious capacity about the food they consume". The regulation had been developed and fully vetted for more than a decade by the organic sector, the National Organic Standards Board and USDA's National Organic Program.

The USDA found "significant" legal and policy issues with the rule; after accepting several round of public comment, the department announced in December 2017 it meant to withdraw the rule outright rather than update it.

USDA delayed implementation twice after that and announced in December its intentions to withdraw the rule.

In 2016, the USDA said that at least half of USA organic egg production came from operations that exclusively use roofed enclosures, known as porches, to provide outdoor access to hens. USDA wrongly alleges that the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 does not authorize the animal welfare provisions of the OLPP final rule, and, in doing so, cites definitions of organic outside the law.

What does the Organic Livestock Rule do?

However, the porches meet USDA standards for producers of organic livestock to provide "year-round access for all animals to the outdoors".

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