After 14 years, as ethical farmers and animal advocates have pushed for new rules for the more humane treatment of animals associated with certified organic meats, eggs and dairy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) now pushes back. The rules, which have been delayed from implementation three times since January 2017, provided needed clarity on organic animal care and more humane practices. Although most certified organic producers follow the spirit of the law, there are always the larger producers seeking to gain market advantage who continue to confine animals that are required by law to have outdoor access to roam and be treated humanely.
According to The Hill, the final rules for meat to be sold as “USDA certified organic” set to take place on March 20, according to the USDA, does not allow “broadly prescriptive stand-along animal welfare regulations.” What that means in double talk is that organic farmers are not required to treat their animals any better than the conventional big production farmers. So when consumers spend four times the amount of money buying eggs which have been certified organic, thinking the chickens are allowed to free roam and live humane lives albeit how temporary, the birds could be stuck in huge coops with barely a paper-sized roost laying eggs and suffering endless injuries and abuses.
Under the current rules, producers who participate in the National Organic Program, state poultry are able to move around freely, stretch their wings, stand and engage in normal pecking kind of natural chicken behavior. For livestock, they must also be provided with outdoor space, and when indoors, their enclosures are to be sufficiently large enough and comfortable so the animals are clean, dry and free of injuries.
Now the USDA contends it is concerned about the rules, and that this will stunt the innovation and growth of the organic industry – in other words too bad for the animals; farmers should be able to abuse and treat stock inhumanely to increase their profits.
The Center for Food Safety has slammed the USDA’s walk back:
“In particular, the rules require all animals to have real access to the outdoors, which must include contact with soil and vegetation, and outline minimum spacing requirements for poultry. This is in fact, what consumers already expect from the organic poultry and eggs they buy in stores. But the largest poultry producers have so far been able to consider small, cement, fenced in areas as outdoor access and have not been required to abide by specific spacing limitations,” stated Cameron Harsh, a senior manager for the organic and animal policy.
The rule, according to the Humane Society, would have prohibited the large-scale “organic” egg farms that in which 180,000 birds were kept in a barn, at a density of three per square foot of floor space, and never allowed to set foot outside.
Starting this Monday, December 18, the public will have 30 days to submit their feedback on the withdrawal of the rules. Instructions for submitting comments can be found at: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2017-27316.pdf.
Follow the National Pet Rescue on Facebook.
Did you know that if you want to get updates from a Facebook page, you need to do more than “like” it? To get recent postings in your Facebook feed, you must also hover your mouse over the word “following” and then click “see first” from the drop-down menu. You may want to check back with your favorite pages on occasion because Facebook often changes your settings, no longer having your having your favorites among those to “see first.