The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule would have required a certain amount of space - both indoors and outside - for animal or poultry products to meet the National Organic Program guidelines.
The rule prohibited cruel practices like "tail docking" of cattle and transporting animals too sick or injured to endure the journey.
While Greg Ibach, undersecretary for the USDA's marketing and regulatory program, claimed that "the existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective", organic farmers, animal rights advocates and consumers who have supported the enhanced regulations-which were published on January 19, 2017 and would have taken effect in May-expressed disappointment with the move. Changes to the existing organic regulations, USDA said, could have a negative effect on real costs for producers and consumers. The agency also said that existing regulations were effective.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association praised the decision.
"We rely on trained professionals, including animal scientists, nutritionists and veterinarians, to ensure the health and safety of our food".
The Trump administration has made a decision to withdraw an Obama-era rule that would have set new standards for the way animals should be treated if their meat is going to be sold as "certified organic". "Millions of animals will continue to suffer each year because of the USDA's abdication of its duty to enforce meaningful organic animal welfare standards".
The USDA's move will exacerbate consumer confusion about the meaning of the organic label, and it will, ultimately, negatively impact family organic producers who adhere to strict, voluntary organic standards, according to the National Farmers Union (NFU). We had some admission by the USDA that the industry had been camping out in their office bending their arms and their ears. "It puts them on an uneven playing field with the types of operations who skirt the rules, yet also benefit from the same USDA organic label".
Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, also praised USDA for the action.
"The organic industry's continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers", Ibach said. Producers were required to provide access to outdoor spaces, particularly for poultry.
By withdrawing the rule, which was supported by most prominent organic trade groups and producers, including family farmers, and by some large-scale non-organic producers, such as Perdue Farms, the agency has chosen to ignore the wishes of thousands of stakeholders committed to higher welfare standards. The USDA's ruling preserves the status quo, and fails to establish the USDA Organic label as the "gold standard" for organics that OLPP promised. In a press release, it stated that the USDA had "without regard for public comment and without respect for legal authorities - irresponsibly thwarted a fully vetted regulation overwhelmingly supported by the organic industry and the public".
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