On Monday, the United States Department of Agriculture abandoned stricter animal welfare standards that would have given farm animals classified as Organic and used for egg production and meat more humane protections. The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices has been withdrawn with the department citing the rule exceeds the department’s statutory authority.
The rule was established by former President Barack Obama, designed to give organically grown livestock enough space to lie down, turn around, stand up and fully stretch. Also prohibited was the removal of chicken beaks and cutting cattle tails; also requiring living conditions to include fresh air, proper ventilation and direct sunlight. Not a lot to ask for chickens and cattle destined to give up their short lives for human consumption don’t you think?
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, CEO Matt Bershadker, the walk back of the rule defeats what has been an ongoing task fighting for basic humane treatment for animals for the last 20 years.
“The USDA’s withdrawal of the OLPP is a violation of the public trust that reverses the nearly two decades of collaboration and feedback from farmers and consumers that led to this groundbreaking rule. Millions of animals will continue to suffer each year because of the USDA’s abdication of its duty to enforce meaningful organic animal welfare standards.”
Bershadker agrees that most farmers have been in favor of stronger animal welfare standards, but some large-scale brands have intentionally taken advantage of the loopholes while still referring to themselves as Organic farmers and thus charging higher prices, while misleading consumers who believe they are making more social conscious decisions when they purchase meat, dairy and eggs with the Organic classification.
The DesmoinesRegister reports that some people in the livestock industry complained the rule would has increased their paperwork and driven up the costs for farmers and ranchers.
“America’s organic livestock and poultry producers can now breathe easy that they can maintain the health of their flocks and herds the best way they see fit, and they will not be driven out of business by another government regulation,” stated Kansas Republican Senator Pat Roberts.
Francis Thicke, who runs an organic dairy and grows crops in Iowa, was not surprised at the rule abandonment after finding that farming lobbyists had been camping out and influencing politicians with their stories of woe. A group of organic farmers in the United States have now created their own label – the Real Organic Project and hope to have pilot farms certified this summer which will guarantee humane standards for organic animals.
Be careful what you read in the supermarkets about Organic; on May 13, the rules are effectively all withdrawn. Please shop with your heart.
Read more about the USDA and how animal welfare continues to be put on the back burners. Why?
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