AWI Statement: USDA Withdrawal of Organic Rule Leaves Millions of Farm Animals Vulnerable

Photo by Mike Suarez

Washington, DC—The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized plans this week to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule. The rule would have improved the lives of millions of animals raised under the Certified Organic Label.

In reaction to this update, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) issued the following statement:

The USDA’s withdrawal of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule leaves animals raised under the National Organic Program (NOP) vulnerable. The final rule, which was decades in the making, would have created the first substantive federal standards for the raising of farm animals.

The final rule would have significantly improved the welfare of animals raised as “organic.” If the rule had been implemented, birds would be guaranteed access to the outdoors and vegetation, and the practice of euthanizing piglets by manual blunt force trauma would have been prohibited. The final rule also would have created minimum space requirements for chickens raised for meat and for egg-laying hens, restricted physical alterations such as tail docking of pigs, and provided requirements for the more humane handling of animals during transport. Additionally, this rule marked the first federal law to consider the welfare of birds at slaughter.

Instead, the USDA has erased years of work and undermined the Organic Foods Production Act’s mandate to “assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard.” The agency’s statement that it does not have the authority to regulate animal welfare is contrary to its previously held position, and puts millions of farm animals at risk.

To read the pre-publication withdrawal notice, visit here.

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Media Contact

Amey Owen, (202) 446-2128, amey@awionline.org