Sup­port hu­mane stan­dards for live­stock

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum - Anna Fowler, Bowie

On Jan. 18, the USDA re­leased the fi­nal ver­sion of the Or­ganic Live­stock and Poul­try Prac­tices rule, the cul­mi­na­tion of over a decade of work aimed at im­prov­ing wel­fare stan­dards for the 50 mil­lion an­i­mals that are raised or­gan­i­cally. Al­though the “or­ganic” la­bel con­jures an im­age of high-level an­i­mal wel­fare in the minds of most con­sumers, in fact the thresh­old to qual­ify for the USDA Or­ganic Seal is alarm­ingly low. Since Jan­uary, the USDA has re­peat­edly pushed back the rule’s ef­fec­tive date. Now the agency has opened a new 30-day pub­lic com­ment pe­riod, with an eye to­ward get­ting rid of the rule al­to­gether. Now is the time for all con­sci­en­tious con­sumers to de­clare their sup­port for this com­mon-sense con­sumer pro­tec­tion rule.

This rule will man­date hu­mane stan­dards for or­gan­i­cally raised an­i­mals by guar­an­tee­ing them ac­cess to ad­e­quate liv­ing space and ac­cess to the out­doors. Cur­rently, some “or­ganic” poul­try oper­a­tions pro­vide spa­cious out­door ar­eas for their birds, while oth­ers pro­vide only ac­cess to screened en­clo­sures called “porches.” With­out the new rule, eggs from both sources can be la­belled USDA Cer­ti­fied Or­ganic, leav­ing the con­sumer none the wiser. Higher hu­mane stan­dards will ben­e­fit both an­i­mals and con­sumers.

I urge ev­ery­one to sub­mit writ­ten com­ments in sup­port of the Or­ganic Live­stock and Poul­try Prac­tices rule be­fore the June 9 dead­line at www.reg­u­la­

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