Organic Trade Group Fights USDA Over Animal Welfare Standards

Organic Trade Group Fights USDA Over Animal Welfare Standards
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In a lawsuit filed against the USDA, the Organic Trade Association aims to expedite new organic livestock and poultry standards that would improve the quality of life for countless animals.

The industry trade group says the agency’s efforts to delay the law should be stopped and that the rules should go into effect immediately.

“USDA’s motion to dismiss the Organic Trade Association’s lawsuit would be unremarkable except for its clear failure to consider the overwhelming public support for the delayed rule,” OTA said in a statement.

The lawsuit was filed last September in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. after the rule should have gone into effect in March 2017. But the Trump administration delayed the rule until last May. It was interrupted again with a delay lasting until November 14, 2017, over what the agency said were policy and legal issues that warranted further review.

After the November delay, the USDA delayed the ruling again until May 14, 2018. It began taking public comments on whether it should permanently suspend the changes to organic livestock. And then last December announced plans to fully withdraw the rule on grounds that it exceeds the agency’s statutory authority.

According to the OTA, the USDA seeks to have the lawsuit dismissed “to avoid explaining to America’s organic producers and consumers why it is blocking necessary rule clarifications and the strengthening of organic production practices.”  

The OTA says that of the 47,000 comments on the rule, only 28 supported withdrawing it entirely while more than 40,000 of the comments supported swift implementation.

“This USDA action goes against the overwhelming support of organic farmers, businesses, and consumers to advance animal welfare standards in organic,” the OTA said on its website.

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Jill Ettinger

Jill Ettinger is a Los Angeles-based journalist and editor focused on the global food system and how it intersects with our cultural traditions, diet preferences, health, and politics. She is the senior editor for sister websites OrganicAuthority.com and EcoSalon.com, and works as a research associate and editor with the Cornucopia Institute, the organic industry watchdog group. Jill has been featured in The Huffington Post, MTV, Reality Sandwich, and Eat Drink Better. www.jillettinger.com.