The White House just ruled that livestock considered “USDA Organic” does not need to be treated any differently than animals in conventional farming.
The USDA has spent years developing organic requirements for the welfare of animals, but this ruling reverses years of progress.
“The current administration is doing a tremendous service for the conventional agribusiness interests that has invested in giant livestock factories,” said Mark Kastel, of the Cornucopia Institute, which has long sought stricter standards and stricter enforcement from the USDA. The administration “is throwing out 25 years of precedent in terms of developing organic regulations and enforcing them.”
Consumers pay more for organic with the expectation that the animals are treated more humanely than in conventional farming.
According to a recent survey, more than 80 percent of consumers who regularly purchase organic items say it is important that the animal providing the product be allowed outside. This new rule does not make this a requirement any longer.
The USDA has responded, saying this rule “may hamper market-driven innovation and evolution and impose unnecessary regulatory burdens.”
Organic farmers, animal rights advocates, the Organic Trade Association and consumer groups have also spoken out against this decision.
“They are trying to trick the public and sell their products at a premium under a deficient organic label,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “They want the profit that comes from the halo effect of the organic label but they don’t want to adhere to common sense animal welfare standards. I don’t think consumers think that organically raised animals are living in a giant confinement shed.”
Lisa Archer, Director of the Food and Agriculture Program at Friends of the Earth, issued the following response to the ruling:
Trump’s decision to cave to a handful of powerful agribusiness interests by scrapping the organic animal welfare rule is a slap in the face to organic farmers and to the millions of consumers who have put their trust into the organic label.