Since December 2000, when the regulations implementing the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 were released by the US Department of Agriculture, animal and consumer advocates have been working continuously to incorporate animal welfare standards into the rules. After two decades of input from the public and the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), in the last week of his tenure, President Obama finalized a set of animal welfare regulations that had been negotiated by a broad collection of stakeholders, including AWI.
It was anticipated that the long-awaited and widely supported regulations would enhance animal welfare, improve husbandry practices, bolster consumer confidence, safeguard the integrity of the organic label, and protect higher-welfare producers from being unfairly disadvantaged in the marketplace. Unfortunately, none of these benefits were realized, as the USDA under the Trump administration withdrew the regulations, effective May 2018.
Following the 2020 election, AWI and others pushed the Biden administration to make reinstatement of the organic animal welfare standards a top priority. In April 2021, 40 former members of the NOSB voiced their concern about the integrity of the National Organic Program to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and appealed to him to move forward with rulemaking to establish animal welfare standards under the program. These efforts were successful, and on August 5, 2022, the USDA proposed animal welfare regulations substantially similar to the withdrawn rule and announced a 60-day comment period.
AWI will be submitting comments to the USDA urging swift adoption and implementation of the proposed rule. Our supporters can also voice support of the proposed rule and its many benefits to animals, consumers, and higher-welfare, sustainable farmers. Look for an alert in coming weeks inviting you to contact the USDA through our online Action Center. Those wishing to send a written letter should contact Allie Granger at AWI for instructions.