USDA announces stricter animal welfare rules for organic eggs, meat

January 26, 2017

According to the Associated Press, organic meat and egg producers will have to abide by stricter animal welfare standards under a new rule announced by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) before President Trump took office. The regulations will ensure that organically-grown livestock have enough space to lie down, turn around, stand up, and fully stretch their limbs. Poultry will have enough room to move freely and spread their wings. Beaks can’t be removed and cattle tails can’t be cut. Living conditions will have to include fresh air, proper ventilation, and direct sunlight.

The regulations, which are designed to help organic producers meet consumer expectations and ensure the integrity of the USDA organic seal, were first proposed last year. The broadest changes proposed by USDA would cover indoor and outdoor access for poultry, including minimum space requirements. Producers will have to provide birds with daily access to the outdoors and those areas will have to include vegetation or soil. Enclosed porches cannot be considered outdoors.

Farm-state lawmakers and some farm groups remain opposed to the rules, which they said could raise food prices and force some farmers out of business. The National Pork Producers Council said the regulations could add complexity to the organic certification process, “creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers.” The Organic Trade Association said the vast majority of organic egg producers already follow the standards.

The rules won’t go into effect until 2018, and some of the changes aren’t required for several years. It is unclear yet whether the Trump administration will try to reverse the rule or make changes to it.

AP article

Final rule