NFU urges restoration of organic livestock welfare standard

The NFU board says consistency issues threaten the viability of organic family farmers so urge the US Department of Agriculture to reverse their recent withdrawal of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices.
calendar icon 18 January 2018
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While bad actors in private industry pose consistent threats to the integrity of the organic food label, the federal government should not. Yet a recent decision by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule does just that, and it should be reversed immediately, according to National Farmers Union.

Currently, organic certifiers are inconsistently applying animal welfare standards to farming and ranching operations. This, in turn, endangers the organic label’s integrity and ultimately leads to consumer confusion over what practices the organic label represents. The OLPP rule would have helped mitigate these concerns by standardising organic livestock and poultry practices that producers need to meet for the voluntary National Organic Programme (NOP).

NFU Board of Directors today approved a resolution urging USDA to make the OLPP rule effective immediately. The Board noted this action is vital for both the integrity of the organic label and the well-being of the family farmers who adhere to strict, voluntary organic standards. NFU also submitted public comments today in favour of putting the rule in place.

The NFU board spoke publicly:

Central to the success of the National Organic Programme is integrity in the label.

Despite stakeholder demands for consistency, certifiers have inconsistently applied animal husbandry standards across the industry. Consumer confusion threatens the continued success of the programme and the significant investment family farmers have made.

The Organic Foods Production Act directed the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to provide direction on changes and modernisation to the National Organic programme. The programme was always intended to represent continued improvement and modernisation. The NOSB directed NOP to issue standards for organic livestock and poultry producers to maintain consistency across the programme.

The NFU board noted that the OLPP rule enjoyed widespread industry support, which was reflected in the more than 47,000 public comments submitted in favour of the rule:

USDA withdrew the rule and blocked implementation of these standards, even though they have long been expected by the organic community and clearly reflect strong stakeholders input.

The maintenance of high standards for the organic programme is essential for the continuance of consumer confidence and the economic viability of the programme for family farmers.

We urge USDA to make the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule effective immediately.

As reported by NFU

Emily Houghton

Editor, The Pig Site

Emily Houghton is a Zoology graduate from Cardiff University and was the editor of The Pig Site from October 2017 to May 2020. Emily has worked in livestock husbandry, and has written, conducted and assisted with research projects regarding the synthesis of welfare and productivity of free-range food species.

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