Congress tasked the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) with implementing the country’s National Organic Program (NOP). For more than a decade now, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the advisory committee of the NOP, has recommended that the NOP raise animal welfare standards. Currently, there are no regulations that cover animal handling, transport to slaughter, and minimum space requirements, to name a few.
Yet in July, in response to a proposal from the NOSB, USDA again decided it would not take action to improve the lives of animals raised organically, citing an Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) as its reason. The EIA focused on outdoor access for poultry. It showed that only 1 percent of organic egg producers would be negatively impacted by increasing animal welfare standards. In fact, only five large farms would be negatively affected. Currently, those farms enjoy benefits that rightfully should be reserved for smaller farms with much higher standards. The NOP continues to say it will look at these issues later, but it has been over 10 years now. How long are consumers expected to wait to get basic welfare standards for these animals?