USDA Decides Not to Impose New Rules for Organic Producers

Divergent farming practices within the organic sector have caused organic eggs to have a large potential range of quality

Divergent farming practices within the organic sector have caused organic eggs to have a large potential range of quality

"Consumers seeking organic animal products for their families have helped grow organic to the almost $50 billion industry it is today", says Cameron Harsh, Senior Manager for Organic and Animal Policy at Center for Food Safety.

"The American Farm Bureau supports USDA's decision to withdraw the misguided Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule".

USDA has officially ended a rule on organic livestock and poultry practices that the Obama administration sought to implement at the tail end of the administration's tenure past year.

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"Not only did USDA not have the legal authority to implement animal-welfare regulations, but the rule would have also vilified conventionally raised livestock without recognizing our commitment to raise all cattle humanely, regardless of the marketing program they're in".

President Donald Trump's administration Monday canceled an organic livestock rule finalized in the last hours of former President Barack Obama's administration, in an effort to simplify organic food classifications and reduce burdens on farmers.

"It's not a surprise. This latest action by USDA will only invigorate and solidify more support for this regulation". "It's disappointing. The power of Washington lobbyists wins again", said Francis Thicke, who runs an organic dairy and grows crops in southeastern Iowa near Fairfield. Importantly, the rule closed a loophole in current regulations that allow large poultry companies to skirt the law and use screened-in porches to satisfy "outdoor access" requirements. Divergent farming practices within the fast-growing organic sector were causing confusion among shoppers and giving an economic advantage to egg producers who provided less space to their poultry, the agency said at the time.

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"America's organic livestock and poultry producers can now breathe easy that they can maintain the health of their flocks and herds the best way they see fit, and they will not be driven out of business by another government regulation, said Roberts, chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee". The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018.

According to USDA reports for 2017, the number of certified organic operations increased domestically by 7% and globally by 11%.

"The vast majority of organic farmers that opt-in to organic certification strongly believe in providing their animals with sufficient space, meaningful outdoor access, proper lighting, appropriate diets, and clean conditions", says Harsh. The group guarantees generous standards for organic animals and not what Thicke considers weak requirements set by the government. USDA also repeatedly delayed the rule and "arbitrarily ignored the overwhelming public record established in support of these organic standards". The OTA argues that USDA chose to roll back the livestock and poultry rules without consulting the National Organic Standards Board. USDA has requested that this case be dismissed; now they have announced they are withdrawing the rule.

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