NCBA Applauds USDA's Withdrawal of Organic Marketing Rule

Free-range chickens on grass in yard

"Failure to implement the final rule, and its welfare provisions, will lead to irremediable damage to consumer trust in the USDA Organic seal", warned Jesse Laflamme, a supporter of the OTA lawsuit and co-founder of Pete and Gerry's Organic Eggs, which partners with over more than family-owned farms in 14 states.

The US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) has chose to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule to the dismay of stakeholders in the organic agriculture industry.

DES MOINES, Iowa-New rules, decades in the making, that would have required organic meat and egg producers to abide by stricter animal welfare standards were withdrawn by the federal government on Monday, frustrating organic farmers and animal welfare groups but leaving some traditional egg and livestock farm groups rejoicing.

It would also have expanded current requirements for livestock care and production methods.

USDA received roughly 72,000 comments, with an overwhelming majority supporting OLPP, according to the Organic Trade Association. The rule also ensured that animals raised under the standard could not be tightly confined, and it set minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for egg-laying chickens. A regulatory freeze by incoming President Trump pushed implementation back to May 19, 2017.

USDA is withdrawing the rule based on its current interpretation of 7 U.S. C. 6905, citing that the OLPP rule exceeds USDA's statutory authority.

"This most recent egregious attempt by the Department to ignore the will of the organic industry and consumers does not halt our judicial review, but, in fact, furthers our resolve", Laura Batcha, CEO of the OTA said in a statement. Livestock health and well-being is a priority for all farmers and ranchers. "The rule did not promote food safety or animal welfare". NCBA President Kevin Kester said the rule would have vilified producers raising non-organic livestock.

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National Cattlemen's Beef Association called USDA's decision a common-sense victory. The rule would have increased federal regulation of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers, requiring organic egg factories to provide their hens with outdoor space to graze.

"It's official - the Obama administration rule that would have jeopardized the livelihood of organic livestock and poultry producers is gone", Roberts said.

Thicke said a group of organic farmers in the USA have created their own label, the Real Organic Project, and hope to have pilot farms certified this summer with eventual rollout nationally.

Withdrawing the rule puts organic producers who adhere to the strict standards on an uneven playing field with operations that skirt the rules yet benefit from USDA's organic label, he said.

Be Civil - It's OK to have a difference in opinion but there's no need to be a jerk.

The regulation was created to ensure that organically grown livestock had enough space to lie down, turn around, stand up and fully stretch.

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