(Beyond Pesticides, January 9, 2018) Comments are needed by January 17 on plans announced by the Trump Administration to scuttle the final rule on organic animal welfare (the Organic Livestock Poultry Practices rule, or OLPP) that was adopted as a final rule a year ago.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Sonny Perdue has repeatedly delayed implementation of the final rule on animal welfare in organic production. The effective date of the final rule published on January 19, 2017, delayed on February 9, 2017, and again on May 10, 2017, is now delayed until May 14, 2018. By setting minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements and defining “outdoors,” the rule would make it more difficult for factory egg and poultry farms to be certified organic. Although many wished it to be stronger, the rule received widespread support. More than 40,000 agriculture groups, farmers, and others urged USDA to finalize the standard; only 28 commenters opposed it. The Organic Trade Association sued USDA in September for failing to finalize the standard. Now, USDA proposes to withdraw the rule altogether.
The OLPP requires that organic chickens have access to the outdoors, space to move around, sunlight and fresh air, and that animals on farms be protected from unnecessary and potentially harmful procedures, such as tail docking of cows and unrestricted beak trimming on birds. The majority of organic livestock farmers already comply with these rules. USDA’s inexcusable rollback of organic standards is the biggest attack on organic since it tried to allow GMOs in the original standard nearly 20 years ago.