USDA to rescind organic livestock and poultry rules

Agriculture Sec. Sonny Perdue announced that his agency will withdraw a proposed organic rule for livestock and poultry.

The rule was finalized in January 2017, but placed on hold when the new administration took office.

The Obama-era regulation — the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule — would have incorporated into the National Organic Program animal welfare standards that were not based on science and that were outside the scope of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990. The act limited consideration of livestock as organic to feeding and medication practices.

The move was supported by the National Pork Producers Council.

“We’d like to thank Sec. Perdue and the Trump administration for listening to our concerns with the rule and recognizing the serious challenges it would have presented our producers,” said Ken Maschhoff, NPPC President.

NPPC pointed out a number of problems with the regulation, including animal and public health concerns and the fact that animal production practices have nothing to do with the basic concept of “organic.” NPPC also cited the complexity the standards would have added to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers.

In withdrawing the rule, the U.S. Department of Agriculture determined the regulation exceeded the agency’s authority and that it would have had a greater economic impact on farmers than originally estimated.

National Farmers Union (NFU) supports the OLPP rule’s intent, as it would improve the consistency and integrity of organic livestock practices and labeling.

“This is a very disappointing decision by USDA, both for American family farmers and for consumers. Currently, we have too much inconsistency in how organic certifiers apply animal welfare standards to farming and ranching operations,” said Rob Larew, NFU Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Communications. “This, in turn, endangers the organic label’s integrity and leads to consumer confusion. The OLPP rule would have helped mitigate these concerns by standardizing organic livestock and poultry practices for the voluntary National Organic Program.

“We urge USDA to find a solution that provides certainty to family organic producers and integrity to the organic label. Family farmers, ranchers, and consumers all benefit from thorough, accurate and consistent food labeling.”

The withdraw notice will be published in the Federal Register and is subject to a public comment period.


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