Final rule: welfare of organic livestock, poultry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in January published the final rule on animal welfare standards for organic livestock and poultry in the Federal Register. The Office of Management and Budget had been reviewing the rule since a public comment period ended in July.

Based on recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board, the final rule:

  • Establishes minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry
  • Clarifies how producers and handlers must treat livestock and chickens to ensure their health and well-being throughout life, including transport and slaughter, and
  • Specifies which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production.

The final rule will create economic benefits for organic producers, ensure fairness across organic operations, and ensure that all organic animals lives in pasture-based systems that support their well-being and natural behavior.

In comments on the proposed rule during 2016, the Organic Trade Association said it supported National Organic Program efforts to create greater consistency in organic livestock practices, and acknowledged that the proposed regulations did not increase biosecurity risks on organic farms.   //