Source: Center for Food Security

June 17, 2021 (Washington, DC) – Ina victory for organic farmers, advocates and animal welfare, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ad today, he will restore animal welfare standards to organic meat farms that were withdrawn under the Trump administration. Secretary Vilsack announced that the USDA “will reconsider the interpretation of the previous administration that the Organic Food Production Act does not allow the USDA to regulate the practices that were the subject of the Final Rule. 2017 on Organic Farming and Poultry Practices (OLPP) ”, including significant outdoor access. for organic chickens and other animal welfare improvements. The secretary “ordered the National Organic Program to begin regulation to meet this statutory interpretation and to include a proposal to ban the use of porches as outdoor space in organic production” and to make further improvements to the rule of origin.

“After 4 years of bitter litigation, the Biden administration recognizes that Trump’s decision to withdraw was incompatible with organic standards and principles. This is a major victory for anyone who cares about a meaningful organic label, ”said Amy van Saun, senior counsel at the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and counsel on the litigation. “Finally, the USDA will close the loophole for factory farms to produce ‘organic’ eggs and chicken, and level the playing field for true organic farmers already providing high welfare to their animals.”

In January 2017, the Obama USDA released the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practice (OLPP) rule to improve animal welfare standards on farms producing organic meat, including requiring more space and outdoor access. for laying hens and chickens. Despite overwhelming support for standards by the organic community, the Trump USDA took of rule in 2018. In response, the CFS filed a complaint challenging the rule’s withdrawal, currently in settlement talks. Now, the Biden USDA Commits to Reinstate Rule Designed to Strengthen Minimum Animal Care and Welfare Requirements on Organic Farms and Reaffirms Authority to Set Animal Welfare Standards in Organic Program national. USDA will publish the rule for review and comment, allowing for potential improvements to the OLPP.

“Consumer confidence in the USDA Certified Organic label is vital and ensures the success of the organic label in the market. The reestablishment of the organic animal welfare rule is a huge victory to gain the confidence of consumers and farmers who expect meaningful and consistent standards for animal welfare under the Organic label ”, said Abby Youngblood, executive director of the National Organic Coalition, complainant in the case.

SCF and allies sued the Trump USDA in March 2018. The Trump administration initially claimed that organizations did not have the legal capacity to challenge the withdrawal decision. In August 2018, a federal court rejected these arguments. The Court ruled that the withdrawal of the rule setting organic animal welfare standards harms members of organizations because it “undermines the organic label” for consumers. In 2019, a federal court again face with the CFS and its allies, ruling that the USDA could not hide the communications and documents that led to the controversial withdrawal. The case is currently on hold for settlement discussions.

“We are delighted that the Biden administration is re-issuing the organic rule and urging them to do so as soon as possible to improve the lives of millions of farm animals,” said Peter Brandt, senior animal counsel for firm to the Humane Society of the United States, plaintiff in the case. “Like the laws in California and many other states, the rule ensured that pigs, chickens and other farm animals could not be tightly contained, and it filled a loophole that allowed large poultry companies to circumvent the law by using sparse screened porches to meet exterior access requirements.

The OLPP Rule was the culmination of more than a decade of work by organic stakeholders and the National Organic Standards Board. More specifically, it has ensured adequate space and outdoor access for organic poultry by establishing clear and enforceable minimum spacing requirements and specifying the quality of outdoor space that is to be provided. It also clarified outdoor access for other biological animals, such as cows, and prohibited inhuman physical alterations, such as debeaking and tail docking. The Trump administration has delayed the effective date of the final rule three times, and then formally withdrew it. The USDA claimed that animal care regulations could not be published because the agency did not have the authority to regulate practices such as animal space and preventive health care for livestock under the label. organic.

“We are pleased that the court paved the way for the National Organic Program to finally align with consumer expectations. Consumer confusion is a hallmark of factory animal husbandry, and restoring the intended meaning of the organic label is a welcome step towards increased transparency, ”said Cristina Stella, lawyer-manager of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, complainant in that case.

By ousting the rule, the Trump administration has completely reversed the legal and political positions the USDA has held for 28 years since the inception of organic, and what organic consumers and farmers think: that organic standards include considerations on the care of livestock. and well-being. She also claimed that regulation would be expensive, although her own economic analysis found only minor costs.

Represented by CFS legal counsel, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Animal Legal Defense Fund, Center for Food Safety, Center for Environmental Health, Cultivate Oregon, International Center for Technology Assessment, Humane Society of the United States, and the National Organic Coalition. , a non-profit organization whose missions include protecting the integrity of the organic label.

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