USDA Moves to Withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule: USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has announced the decision to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule, otherwise known as “the animal welfare rule”, published on January 19, 2017. The rule would have increased federal regulation of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers. The withdrawal date has been extended to May 14, 2018 under separate actions and can be viewed here.
What does this mean for the Organic label? Since spring 2016, the National Organic Program and stakeholders began developing and eventually published the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP). The OLPP final rule, set to take place this year, amended the organic livestock and poultry production requirements in the USDA organic regulations by adding new provisions outlining specific best practices related to livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions; and expanded and clarified existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices and mammalian living conditions. Withdrawal from the rule means USDA will not be required to implement the specific animal handling, transport, and management standards outlined in the OLPP rule under the Organic label. The current Organic label does not detail animal management beyond what was previously outlined in the National Organic Program which stated animals should be allowed “to exhibit natural behaviors” and be provided with “access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas, fresh air, clean water for drinking, and sunlight.”
For more information on the OLPP final rule is available in the March 12, 2018, Federal Register. Contact: Paul Lewis, Ph.D., Director of Standards Division, Telephone: (202) 720-3252; Fax: (202) 260-9151
The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association has been monitoring policy updates that can be found on their website https://www.carolinafarmstewards.org/organicanimalwelfare/