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USDA Withdraws From Organic Animal Welfare Rule

On March 12, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced they would no longer adhere to the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP), a ruling that was put into place on January 19, 2017. 

A statement released by the USDA explained that the existing organic regulations, "could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers." 

The USDA's marketing and regulatory program undersecretary Greg Ibach added that "The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective," but some animal welfare groups and pro-organic organizations would beg to differ. 

The Organic Trade Organization has said that it "strongly condemn[s]" the actions of the USDA's decision to kill the OLPP, which they call "a fully vetted regulation overwhelmingly supported by the organic industry and the public." 

“This most recent egregious attempt by the Department to ignore the will of the organic industry and consumers does not halt our judicial review, but, in fact, furthers our resolve,” says Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association.

The OLPP included a variety of new practices and improvements for organic livestock, including chickens having daily access to the outdoors and prohibiting the de-beaking of birds and the tail-docking (removal) of cattle. 

"Millions of animals will continue to suffer each year because of the USDA’s abdication of its duty to enforce meaningful organic animal welfare standards," adds ASPCA president and CEO Matt Bershadker. 

The ASPCA further said that the OLPP rule "would have been the first comprehensive set of regulations governing on-farm treatment of animals implemented by the federal government." 

Image via Shutterstock 

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