June 22, 2021

USDA to reconsider previous ruling on organic livestock and poultry practices


US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced last week that United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will reconsider the previous US administration's Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule.


"We intend to reconsider the prior administration's interpretation that the Organic Foods Production Act does not authorise USDA to regulate the practices that were the subject of the 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule," Vilsack said in a statement on June 17.


"I have directed the National Organic Program to begin a rulemaking to address this statutory interpretation and to include a proposal to disallow the use of porches as outdoor space in organic production over time and on other topics that were the subject of the OLPP final rule. We anticipate sending the proposed rule to OMB (the Office of Management and Budget) within six to nine months from the date of the remand. We look forward to receiving public comments on those topics and, after reviewing the comments, USDA will publish a final rule."


The Organic Trade Association (OTA) said in a news release that Vilsack had previewed the rule when he spoke to group's annual membership meeting.


"Vilsack laid out a forward-looking agenda for the organic sector, including a vow to resolve the ongoing issue over USDA's failure to implement a critical and fully vetted organic animal welfare regulation," OTA said.


OTA added that it "welcomes Secretary Vilsack's acknowledgement that the department is walking away from the illegal Trump withdrawal of the organic animal welfare rule, and its acknowledgement that porches should not qualify as outdoor access in organic poultry operations."


"The USDA has already conceded that its economic analysis underpinning the Trump withdrawal of the OLPP rule is flawed. We hope that USDA's acknowledgement of these matters that are of grave importance to the organic industry facilitates a full and timely resolution of this critical issue."


OTA noted that the rule has been in the courts since 2017 when the association took legal action to defend organic standards.


The organisation said Vilsack had addressed "positively the majority of the Organic Trade Association's priorities for the Biden administration."


- The Hagstrom Report