Perdue endorses USDA organic program proposal
Company submits comments to federal agency in support of proposal, but seeks extension to implementation deadline
Recognizing that consumers expect meaningful animal welfare standards for organic chickens, Perdue Farms supports the National Organic Program’s proposal to give broilers more room inside chicken houses, ensure sufficient pasture space with ready access to the outdoors and require husbandry practices that promote natural behaviors.
“Consumers view USDA Certified Organic as the gold standard in agricultural production, and that includes animal welfare,” Randy Day, chief operating officer, Perdue Farms, said in a press release. “As the leading producer of organic chicken, we fully endorsed the National Organic Program’s desire to strengthen what it means when products carry the Organic seal.”
“Specific requirements for space and indoor air quality, outdoor access and enrichments that promote natural behaviors will further differentiate organic chicken from conventional production in a meaningful way, and we welcome the adoption of uniform and verifiable standards,” added Day. In response to the USDA’s request for public comment on the proposed rule, Perdue Farms has submitted a letter to the Federal Register supporting the National Organic Program. In its letter, Perdue also asks that the implementation deadline for additional space be extended from one year to three years. This will ensure the ongoing availability of organic chicken for consumers while producers expand farm space.
The National Chicken Council has also submitted comments concerning the National Organic Program, but it suggested that revisions be made.
Perdue Farms stresses commitment to providing organic choices
“We are fully committed to providing organic choices to customers, consumers and farmers, and to maintaining the integrity of USDA organic certification,” said Day. “The USDA is a vital partner to everyone who supports the growth of organic production, and we laud their leadership in ensuring consumer trust in the organic label.”
Perdue Foods has been raising and selling organic broiler chickens since its 2011 acquisition of Coleman Natural Foods, and is now the largest organic-certified broiler producer in the U.S. Perdue Foods markets organic broiler chickens through operations in Petaluma, California, Mount Vernon, Washington, and Milford, Delaware, Its Coleman Organic and Perdue Harvestland organic chicken products are distributed into a majority of states, and its local brands are raised and distributed in California, Washington State and Oregon.
Through Perdue AgriBusiness, Perdue Farms is providing agronomic services, organic fertilizers and grain merchandising to support crop farmers who choose to use organic production.
Stricter organic welfare standards are consistent with Perdue’s commitment
Perdue also recently announced its precedent-setting “Commitments to Animal Care,” which is transforming its conventional poultry production to focus on giving chickens not only what they need, but what they want, including the opportunity to express all their normal behaviors.
“Across the company, we are committed to continually advancing how we care for animals and strengthening our relationship with the farmers who raise our chickens,” said Bruce Stewart-Brown, DVM, senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production for Perdue Foods.