In January 2017, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a new rule that requires certified organic farms to follow baseline standards for the treatment of food animals.
Now the new administration at the USDA has delayed making it effective and is considering withdrawing the rule entirely.
Among many new protections, the rule will ensure that organic farms’ chickens, including egg-laying hens, are able to go outdoors. Some large-scale producers meet the current requirement for outdoor access with a small, entirely enclosed, concrete or dirt-covered porch. The new rule would create consistency by setting a stronger standard that requires a minimum amount of outdoor space.
Consumer Reports recently conducted a nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 individuals showing that consumers who often or always buy organic foods think it’s highly important that organic farms adhere to high standards for animal welfare. The Greener Choices team at Consumer Reports has shared this latest consumer survey data with the Secretary of Agriculture.
This new rule is widely supported in the organic community, including organic farmers and businesses. But the rule is opposed by some powerful agricultural interests, including lobby groups for conventional producers (who would not be affected by the new rule) and organic producers who raise hens in indoor confinement with no outdoor space.
The Secretary of Agriculture needs to hear from YOU.
Let’s send a strong message that consumers care that the organic label meets their expectations, including animal welfare on organic farms.
Follow this link to submit your comment to the USDA.
Comments carry more weight when you write your own message, but here are some bullet points to help guide you if you want to stand up for the organic animal welfare rule:
- As a consumer, you feel strongly that organic farms should adhere to rigorous and consistent standards, including high standards for animal welfare.
- When you buy organic poultry or eggs, you expect that the chickens were able to go outdoors.
- You support Option 1, which enables the new rule to become effective.
Submit your comments now. The USDA will accept comments until Friday, June 9, 2017, at 11:59 PM ET.