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TAKE ACTION NOW on animal welfare rule

AlertPlease take action now to tell the USDA to keep organic strong! 

Organic Livestock Producers            Organic Businesses              Organic Consumers       

In a Federal Register notice on May 10, 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture delayed the effective date for the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule by at least six months and asked for input on whether to suspend the rule indefinitely, delay it, or withdraw it.

The organic industry supports the final rule. The organic consumer supports the final rule. Now we need to submit comments to USDA urging them to move ahead with “option 1” and let the rule become effective on November 14, 2017.


OTA opposes further delay of Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) along with over 350 organic livestock producers representing $1.95 billion in annual sales, the federal Advisory Committee on organic, and every major U.S. accredited organic certifier have called on the Secretary of Agriculture to allow the organic livestock rule to go into effect.

Being certified organic is a choice, not a mandate. Organic means more than just what the animals eat. The comprehensive regulation reflects a consensus between producers, certifiers, and consumers that organic livestock, including poultry, should be provided with meaningful outdoor access and adequate space to move around, and that all organic livestock should not be subjected to unnecessary physical alterations like tail docking.

The voluntary organic program ensures products bearing the USDA Organic seal meet rigorous standards. The viability of the organic market rests on consumer trust in the USDA Organic seal, and trust that the organic seal represents a meaningful differentiation from other agricultural practices. A federal voluntary standard that meets the changing needs of customers is imperative for the organic sector. Without the ability to deliver a product that keeps up with the evolving consumer preference, the relevance of the USDA Organic seal is at stake and it will have long-term detrimental effects on an entire industry.

Organic is an important vibrant part of the U.S. economy and a bright spot for our farms and our rural areas. Organic agriculture and the businesses accompanying it have been shown to lower local poverty rates and raise household incomes. Organic creates jobs and opportunities, and gives existing farmers and future farmers a viable alternative.

We urge the Administration to support industry developed organic standards.


Final rule released on organic livestock &, poultry welfare

On January 19, 2017 USDA published the final rule on animal welfare standards for organic livestock and poultry in the Federal Register. The Office of Management and Budget had been reviewing the rule since the public comment period ended in July. Based on recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board, the final rule:

  • Establishes minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry
  • Clarifies how producers and handlers must treat livestock and chickens to ensure their health and well-being throughout life, including transport and slaughter, and
  • Specifies which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production.

The National Organic Program has provided a suite of resources regarding the final regulation.

On July 13, 2016 OTA submitted final comments to the National Organic Program on a proposed rule to clarify existing federal organic regulations related to animal welfare standards. The comments were shaped by the work of its Animal Welfare Task Force. Read OTA's comments.

On April 7, 2016, USDA posted a proposed rule to clarify existing federal organic regulations related to animal welfare standards. The rule published to the federal register on April 13. This rulemaking is based on the 2011 NOSB Recommendation which sets standards for indoor and outdoor space requirements for organic poultry and livestock, and adds definitions to which practices are allowed and prohibited under organic regulations.


Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards

76% of organic farmers already allow their flocks to have real outdoor access. Claims that outdoor access requirements for organic birds raise disease concerns simply don't pass scrutiny. All USDA and FDA health and safety rules remain in place. A less-stressed flock is a healthier flock – that's organic. Learn more from USDA about biosecurity protections in organic poultry operations

Producing food that meets the USDA Organic label is a choice for farmers and consumers. An ongoing review process by the National Organic Standard Board and USDA keeps that standard strong. Animal welfare, which includes healthy living conditions and the best animal husbandry practices, has always been a high priority of organic producers. In fact, USDA’s National Organic Program’s final rule was the first USDA regulation to mention animal welfare, requiring outdoor access for all organic poultry and livestock and living conditions that accommodate for the health and natural behaviors of animals.

The Organic Trade Association supports the process to strengthen and improve organic animal welfare standards and supported The National Organic Standard Board’s 2011 recommendation to USDA on proposed rules, which included standards for indoor and outdoor space requirements for organic poultry and livestock, and added definitions to which practices are allowed and prohibited under organic regulations.


Resources

FINAL RULE: ORGANIC ANIMAL WELFARE STANDARDS  OTA Letter to Secretary Perdue Letter to Ag Secretary from 350 Organic Livestock Producers Letter to Ag Secretary from ACA's OTA's Submitted Comments OTA CEO's Submitted Comments USDA FACT SHEET: BIOSECURITY IN USDA ORGANIC POULTRY OPERATIONS OTA FACT SHEET: BIOSECURITY IN USDA ORGANIC POULTRY OPERATIONS NATIONAL ORGANIC PROGRAM Q & A


Contact
Farm Policy Director
(360) 388-6422
 

 

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