Organic groups and food and campaigners have welcomed the signalling of a formal commitment by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reinstate the 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule, which would strengthen and standardise hard-fought animal welfare protections under the USDA Organic label, including rules on outdoor access and spacing requirements.
In a statement this week, the USDA said the proposed OLPS rule would change US organic regulations to “promote a fairer and more competitive market for organic livestock producers” by ensuring that certified USDA livestock products are produced to the same consistent standard.
Amy van Saun, senior attorney with food standards non-profit Center for Food Safety, said: “USDA has again confirmed our stance that organic does mean consistently protecting animal welfare”.
She added: “The proposed rule appears to fully reinstate the vital requirements recommended by the National Organic Standards Board and organic stakeholders that were part of the 2017 final rule, including the crucial updates ensuring that organic chickens have outdoor access and indoor habitat, eliminating the so-called ‘porches’ that allowed some producers to factory-farm their poultry. Porches are not organic.”
Tom Chapman, CEO of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), said: “The OTA has always fought for the highest animal welfare standards in organic. We even brought suit against USDA in 2017 for rescinding the original version of this rule, despite widespread industry support. Today marks the first significant movement on organic animal welfare in years; we hope that it also signals a willingness on behalf of USDA to listen to the organic industry and act swiftly to implement these common-sense reforms. Organic producers and their animals have waited long enough, it’s time for USDA to act.”