Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a new rule requiring humane conditions for animals raised on certified organic farms.

Now the USDA is proposing to withdraw this new rule entirely.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a new rule requiring humane conditions for animals raised on certified organic farms.  

The rule took over a decade to develop, with broad public input (thanks to you!) and industry participation. It has widespread support among organic consumers, farmers, and businesses.

A 2017 Consumer Reports survey that found that the vast majority -- 86 percent -- of consumers who often or always buy organic food believe it’s highly important that animals used to produce these foods are raised on farms with high standards for animal welfare.

But instead of implementing the new rule, the USDA is proposing to withdraw it entirely due to opposition from powerful agricultural interests.

The USDA writes that it believes the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) does not authorize the animal welfare provisions of the new rule. We disagree; OFPA specifically authorizes standards “for the care of livestock to ensure that such livestock is organically produced.” The new rule specifically adds provisions for how certified organic farmers should care for their farm animals.

The Secretary of Agriculture needs to hear from YOU.  Let’s send a strong message that consumers care that the organic label meets their expectations, including animal welfare on organic farms.

Follow this link to submit your comment to the USDA.

The new rule would require many new protections. For example, it would ensure that organic farms’ chickens, including egg-laying hens, are able to go outdoors. Most certified organic farmers already provide ample outdoor space for their animals. But the USDA regulations currently require only “access to the outdoors,” which is open to wide interpretation. Some large-scale producers meet this current requirement for outdoor access with a small, entirely enclosed, concrete or dirt-covered porch. These large farms produce a lot of the organic eggs on the market. The new rule would create consistency by setting a stronger standard that requires a minimum amount of outdoor space.

Comments carry more weight when you write your own message, but here are some bullet points to help guide you if you want to stand up for the organic animal welfare rule:

  • As a consumer, you feel strongly that organic farms should adhere to rigorous and consistent standards, including high standards for animal welfare.
  • When you buy organic poultry or eggs, you expect that the chickens are able to go outdoors.
  • You oppose the USDA’s proposed rule to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule.

Click here to submit your comment now. 

The USDA will accept comments until Wednesday, January 17, at 11:59 PM ET.

Thank you!