USDA further delays implementation of Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) recently released notice that they are delaying, for the third time, implementation of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule.

During the course of reviewing the OLPP Rule, in addition to a question about the scope of the statutory authority, a material error in the record was discovered, AMS said. USDA is delaying the rule so that important questions, such as the likely costs and benefits, can be more fully assessed through the notice and comment process prior to making a final decision on the direction of the rule.

The OLPP final rule amends the organic livestock and poultry production requirements by adding new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions; and expands and clarifies existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices and mammalian living conditions.

“The USDA’s move…should be seen for what it is: a clear attempt to let industrial agriculture interests usurp the legitimacy of the organic label,” said Amalie Lipstreu, Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association policy program coordinator. “This rule has been in the making for more than 10 years and has been fully vetted.”

The OLPP final rule would amend production requirements for livestock and poultry under the USDA organic regulations. This rule adds new provisions for how livestock are handled during transport for slaughter as well as avian living conditions. The rule also expands and clarifies existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices and mammalian living conditions. The OLPP final rule was scheduled to become effective on March 20, 2017.

Instead, last spring, AMS published a notice of proposed rulemaking asking the public what direction USDA should take with respect to the rule. In the recent AMS release, the USDA noted that more than 40,000 of the 47,000 total comments received supported implementing the rule immediately. Only one commenter suggested the rule should be delayed.

“The public has high expectations for food that carries the organic label. These expectations are being met or exceeded by more than 90% of organic farmers, who also overwhelmingly support the implementation of these rules without further delay. We should not be catering to the interests of those few producers that do not believe in the values of organic agriculture,” Lipstreu said.

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