Organic Trade Association rebuts USDA motion to dismiss animal welfare lawsuit
The Organic Trade Association issued the following statement on Feb. 16 in response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s motion to dismiss the Organic Trade Association’s lawsuit challenging USDA’s delay of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule:
“USDA’s motion to dismiss the Organic Trade Association’s lawsuit would be unremarkable except for its clear failure to consider the overwhelming public support for the delayed rule. OTA’s response argues for a strong National Organic Standards Board role and grounds for going forward with the necessary improvements to the organic standards. Read Organic Trade Association’s response.
The Organic Trade Association believes the USDA seeks dismissal to avoid explaining to America’s organic producers and consumers why it is blocking necessary rule clarifications and the strengthening of organic production practices. We are undeterred in our quest to have the judicial branch review the agency’s delaying actions. The law requires the government to listen to all organic stakeholders and demonstrate a real commitment to a critical part of democracy – public input.
USDA has engaged in a series of fumbled opportunities to explain its reasoning. OTA and its members won’t accept unending delay and thin explanations and we expect a federal judge won’t either.
The organic sector relies on the strong consumer trust in the USDA Organic seal, and trust that the organic seal represents a meaningful differentiation from other agricultural practices. When consumers sense the Organic seal is not backed up by clear, robust and uniform standards, that trust is shaken and the result is harm to the entire organic brand. The future of the organic market rests on consumer trust, and the organic sector depends on the USDA to set organic standards fairly and according to the law.
The Organic Trade Association and the emerging coalition of farmers, ranchers, businesses, advocacy groups, and consumers that are joining the effort are determined to protect the public trust represented by the organic seal, and we believe we will prevail in court.”