USDA Poised to Change Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards to Improve Animal Welfare

Chickens in a field on a sunny day.
Photo by teamfoto

Washington, DC—Yesterday, the US Department of Agriculture announced plans to publish the Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards final rule. The new rule will at long last establish federal animal welfare standards and have a significant impact on the millions of animals raised under the “USDA Organic” label.

In response to this update, Dena Jones, farmed animal program director for the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI), issued the following statement:

“AWI is pleased to see the USDA moving to finalize the long-awaited Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) rule. This is the culmination of decades of advocacy involving a diverse array of stakeholders working toward the same outcome: improving the lives of millions of farmed animals.

Once implemented, these new regulations will assure consumers that products bearing the “USDA Organic” label came from animals raised under higher standards compared to the billions of animals currently suffering on conventional factory farms. Under the OLPS rule, animals raised organically will benefit from access to the outdoors and environmental enrichment — including bedding, perches for egg-laying hens, and rooting materials for pigs. Egg-laying hens, in particular, have long been denied true outdoor access because of how the USDA interprets current regulations. In addition, many painful physical mutilations will be prohibited, and organically raised sows will no longer be confined to barbaric gestation and farrowing crates. 

The OLPS represents a significant milestone. It is the first set of comprehensive animal welfare standards at the federal level for farmed animals — whose welfare policymakers have all but ignored historically. While the new rule falls short in some areas compared to leading third-party animal welfare certifications of food products, it is a huge step in the right direction. AWI looks forward to seeing the rule take effect and will work diligently to ensure it is properly enforced, while continuously seeking additional opportunities to build upon these efforts and strengthen the standards in the future.”

Media Contact Information

Marjorie Fishman, Animal Welfare Institute
[email protected], (202) 446-2128

The Animal Welfare Institute ( is a nonprofit charitable organization founded in 1951 and dedicated to reducing animal suffering caused by people. AWI engages policymakers, scientists, industry, and the public to achieve better treatment of animals everywhere—in the laboratory, on the farm, in commerce, at home, and in the wild. Follow us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram for updates and other important animal protection news.