Organic Marketing Rule Withdrawn by USDA

USDA announced it will withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule effective May 13, 2018.

The OLPP final rule was published by USDA on Jan. 19, 2017, the last day of Barack Obama’s presidency. The rule increased federal regulation around animal housing, healthcare, transportation and slaughter practices of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers.          

In a statement issued Monday, USDA said, “After careful review and two rounds of public comment, USDA has determined that the rule exceeds the Department’s statutory authority, and that the changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers.”

USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach said, “The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective. The organic industry’s continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers.”

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president Kevin Kester supported USDA’s decision to withdraw OLPP.

“Common sense scored an all-too-rare victory in Washington, DC, today,” Kester said. “Not only did USDA not have the legal authority to implement animal-welfare regulations, but the rule would have also vilified conventionally raised livestock without recognizing our commitment to raise all cattle humanely, regardless of the marketing program they’re in. Secretary Sonny Purdue deserves a lot of credit for another common-sense decision that will benefit America’s beef producers.”

National Farmers’ Union President Roger Johnson, however, called USDA’s action a mistake.

“The voluntary practices that farmers need to meet to qualify for a USDA ‘organic’ label have always been governed by those that created the organic movement and who adhere to the strict standards that are agreed upon by the National Organic Standards Board,” Johnson said. “This body directed the National Organic Program to issue the OLPP standards in order to have some consistency in what is considered to be an organic practice.

“USDA’s action to withdraw the OLPP rule is a mistake that will cost the family producers who already adhere to strict standards in order to meet ‘organic’ standards. It puts them on an uneven playing field with the types of operations who skirt the rules, yet also benefit from the same USDA organic label.”

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