In a victory for organic farmers, advocates, and animal welfare, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today that it will be reinstating animal welfare standards on farms producing organic meat that were withdrawn during the Trump Administration. Secretary Vilsack announced that the USDA will “reconsider the prior Administration’s interpretation that the Organic Foods Production Act does not authorize USDA to regulate the practices that were the subject of the 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule,” including meaningful outdoor access for organic chickens and other animal welfare improvements. The Secretary “directed the National Organic Program to begin a rulemaking to address this statutory interpretation and to include a proposal to disallow the use of porches as outdoor space in organic production,” and make other improvements to the original rule.
“After 4 years of hard-fought litigation, the Biden administration is recognizing that the Trump withdrawal decision was inconsistent with organic standards and principles. This is a major victory for all those who care about a meaningful organic label,” said Amy van Saun, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety (CFS) and counsel in the litigation. “Finally, USDA will close the loophole allowing factory farms to produce ‘organic’ eggs and chicken, and level the playing field for real organic farmers already providing high welfare to their animals.”