Support humane standards for livestock
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.regulations.gov.