Tell the USDA Organic Program to Make Animal Welfare a Priority

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Consumers Expect “Organic” to Mean Good Welfare - Photo by Mike SuarezDear Humanitarian,

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has decided that animal welfare is not important. That's right: USDA recently announced that it is declining to act on a series of recommendations—made by its own advisory National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)—to strengthen the animal welfare criteria for the National Organic Program.

Under the NOSB proposals, some animals raised under the organic label would receive more space and have greater opportunity to enjoy time outdoors, foraging among natural vegetation, exercising and interacting with other animals. Birds, for example, would have to be provided actual access to the soil, not just minute, crowded, screened-in enclosures, which USDA says comply with the organic program's current definition of outdoor access.

An organic label is no assurance of good animal welfare. Giant "organic" operations that house tens of thousands of animals under one roof are fighting to keep animal welfare regulations as minimal and weak as possible. This puts smaller, family-operated organic farms that provide animals a better life at a competitive disadvantage. Consumers, unaware that the welfare of animals on organic farms can range from very low to very high, often aren't getting what they think they're paying for.

Please tell USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack that the National Organic Program should make animal welfare a high priority. You can send an email to Secretary Vilsack through AWI's Compassion Index by clicking here, where you will find suggested talking points to include in your email or letter.

You may also write to Secretary Vilsack at the following address:

The Honorable Tom Vilsack
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250

Write Your Letter - Tell the USDA Organic Program to Make Animal Welfare a Priority
Please be sure to share our "Dear Humanitarian" eAlert with family, friends and co-workers, and encourage them to write, too.

As always, thank you very much for your help!


Dena Jones
Farm Animal Program Manager

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