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USA: animal welfare rule for the organic sector released

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on January 19 published the final rule on animal welfare standards for organic livestock and poultry in the Federal Register.

The Office of Management and Budget had been reviewing the rule since a public comment period ended in July. Based on recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board, reports Organic Trade Association OTA. The final rule

  • establishes minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry
  • clarifies how producers and handlers must treat livestock and chickens to ensure their health and well-being throughout life, including transport and slaughter, and
  • specifies which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production.

OTA’s Animal Welfare Task Force played a significant role in developing OTA’s comments on the proposed rule. OTA’s Government Affairs team will continue to closely track how changes from the new Administration might affect the implementation of this rule. OTA outlined, the rule originally was to go into effect on March 20, 2017, with implementation by March 20, 2018. However, with the Administration’s regulatory stop order, this can change.

The National Organic Program has provided a suite of resources regarding the final regulation.

Civil Eats online commented the regulation as groundbreaking and forward moving for organic: „The rules aren’t as extensive as some advocates had hoped for, but they are a significant step. “We didn’t get all that we wanted. It was adequate given the state of animal welfare in the organic program,” says Dena Jones, the farm animal program director at the American Welfare Institute. “You can’t go from 0 to 100 miles an hour in five feet.”


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