A full page ad in today’s Washington Post seeks to get the attention of Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and implores him to keep the organic animal welfare rule he has announced he’s repealing. Farm Aid is among the organic food advocates and companies who signed on to the letter.
There’s an assumption that the animals raised for certified organic meat, eggs, and dairy have been treated more humanely than conventional animals. But unclear guidelines mean that this assumption may not always be true.
That was set to change with new rules, called the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP), which were finalized on January 18, 2017. But when the Trump administration took office, the USDA delayed them numerous times and then announced in December that they’d abolish them completely.
A broad coalition of farmers, consumer groups, food companies and animal welfare advocates had worked on the OLPP rules for more than fourteen years. Public comments from 47,000 people confirmed that the rules were desired by the general public as well. The rules would have provided a set of standards for organic livestock and poultry designed to minimize stress, facilitate natural behaviors, and promote well-being. The end result would have been to bring organic dairy, eggs, and meat production into line with consumer expectations of higher animal welfare.
The potential fallout from the loss of these rules is a compromised organic marketplace. This is especially critical because the growing organic market represents a promising opportunity for family farmers.
To read about the OLPP in more detail, check out this helpful article in Civil Eats.
March 12, 2018 Update
Today the USDA announced that it was withdrawing implementation of these rules. We’ll keep an eye on this issue and let you know if possibilities for action arise.