USDA withdraws rule for organic livestock standards

13 March, 2018, 20:14 | Author: Regina Silva
  • Trump axes Obama-era rule on organic farming

The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule, finalized under the Obama Administration, strengthened the minimum requirements for the well-being of animals on organic farms.

The rule was passed in the final days of the Obama administration and was initially set to go into effect March 20, 2017.

"The decision nullifies 14 years of policymaking in a process mandated by Congress, and marks an about-face for the agency", Lynne Curry wrote for Civil Eats. Trust in the organic seal depended on it, some advocates insisted.

"The vast majority of organic farmers that opt-in to organic certification strongly believe in providing their animals with sufficient space, meaningful outdoor access, proper lighting, appropriate diets, and clean conditions", says Harsh. The USDA's ruling preserves the status quo, and fails to establish the USDA Organic label as the "gold standard" for organics that OLPP promised.

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing agency, which runs the National Organic Program responsible for the "certified organic" labels, does not have the legislative authority to regulate all aspects of animal care within the organic program, the department's marketing branch said in withdrawing the rule.

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Following the announcement of USDA's decision, the OTA said "The Organic Trade Association last week requested that oral arguments be heard on its lawsuit against USDA over the Department's failure to put into effect new organic livestock standards".

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

"The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective", said Greg Ibach, USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary. USDA also repeatedly delayed the rule and "arbitrarily ignored the overwhelming public record established in support of these organic standards". "Secretary Sonny Perdue deserves a lot of credit for yet another common-sense decision that will benefit America's cattle producers".

"The USDA's unconscionable action does not deter us", Laura Batcha, the group's CEO and executive director, said in a statement. We had some admission by the USDA that the industry had been camping out in their office bending their arms and their ears. 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. "USDA is hoping this issue will go away, but [this] latest action by USDA will only invigorate and solidify more support for this regulation". 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.

The rule would have created significant barriers to existing and new organic producers, according to National Pork Producers Council. Importantly, the rule closed a loophole in current regulations that allow large poultry companies to skirt the law and use screened-in porches to satisfy "outdoor access" requirements.


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