The Center for Food Safety (CFS) and other non-governmental organizations field a lawsuit against the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue over the recent decision to withdraw the organic regulations for animals on certified organic farms, called the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule.
Other groups joining CFS in the legal action are the Center for Environmental Heath, Cultivate Oregon and the International Center for Technology Assessment.
The organic rules, finalized by the USDA under President Barack Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in early 2017, strengthened the minimum requirements for the care and well-being of animals on organic farms, CFC stated in a press release, establishing minimum spacing requirements and specified the quality of outdoor space that must be provided for organic poultry.
The final rule's effective date was delayed three times, and then formally withdrawn.
"The Trump administration's outrageous and unlawful decision is an existential threat to the future of organic as a meaningful label that Americans can rely on," said George Kimbrell, CFS legal director and counsel in the case."
In the March 13 decision, USDA stated that the animal care regulations could not be issued because the agency lacked the authority to regulate practices such as animal space and preventative health care for livestock under the organic label. The agency also stated that changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers.
"Organic consumers and producers believe that organic means providing animals with sufficient space, meaningful outdoor access, proper lighting, appropriate diets, and clean conditions," Cameron Harsh, CFS senior manager for organic and animal policy, stated in the press release. "If not reversed, the new Trump decision will shatter confidence in the standard's integrity and trust that all products carrying the organic seal were produced with care for animals and the environment. It will allow honest and well-intended organic farmers that have always raised their livestock under a high standard of care to be undercut by fake organic production that is little more than animal factories."