Ag Depart­ment kills an­i­mal wel­fare rule for or­ganic meat

Manteca Bulletin - - State/ Dollars & Sense -

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — 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.

The U.S. Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture said the Or­ganic Live­stock and Poul­try Prac­tices rule ex­ceeds the depart­ment’s statu­tory au­thor­ity.

“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,” said USDA Mar­ket­ing and Reg­u­la­tory Pro­gram Un­der­sec­re­tary Greg Ibach.

The rule was pub­lished by for­mer President Barack Obama’s Agri­cul­ture Depart­ment two days be­fore he left of­fice in Jan­uary 2017. The ad­min­is­tra­tion of Don­ald Trump has re­peat­edly de­layed im­ple­ment­ing the rule and had sig­naled that it might never move for­ward with it.

“It’s not a sur­prise. We had some ad­mis­sion by the USDA that the in­dus­try had been camp­ing out in their of­fice bend­ing their arms and their ears. It’s dis­ap­point­ing. The power of Washington lob­by­ists wins again,” said Fran­cis Thicke, who runs an or­ganic dairy and grows crops in southeastern Iowa near Fair­field.

The regulation was de­signed to en­sure that or­gan­i­cally grown live­stock had enough space to lie down, turn around, stand up and fully stretch. It also pro­hib­ited re­moval of chicken beaks and cut­ting cat­tle tails and re­quired im­proved liv­ing con­di­tions in­clud­ing fresh air, proper ven­ti­la­tion and di­rect sun­light.

Drop­ping the rule “re­verses the nearly two decades of col­lab­o­ra­tion and feed­back from farm­ers and con­sumers,” said Matt Ber­shad­ker, CEO of the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals. “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.”

Kansas Repub­li­can Sen. Pat Roberts in a state­ment echoed some in the live­stock in­dus­try who said the rule would in­crease the pa­per­work bur­den and drive up the cost of pro­duc­tion for farm­ers and ranch­ers.

“Amer­ica’s or­ganic live­stock and poul­try pro­duc­ers can now breathe easy that they can main­tain the health of their flocks and herds the best way they see fit, and they will not be driven out of business by an­other govern­ment regulation, said Roberts, chair­man of the Se­nate Agri­cul­ture Com­mit­tee.

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