Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, joined by 14 other state attorneys general, filed an amicus brief supporting the repeal of the Obama Administration’s 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule. The brief argues that this Rule, adopted on the very last day of the Obama Administration, was both illegal and economically unjustifiable.
The 1990 Organic Foods Production Act was intended to impose specific feed and medicinal production standards for “USDA certified organic” products. In contrast, the 2017 Rule focused almost entirely on animal care and living conditions, imposing stringent requirements that poultry have access to outdoor soil. Legally, the states argue, the Obama USDA did not have statutory authority to enact animal-welfare regulations about outdoor access under the guise of regulating organic foods.
Economic analysis also demonstrates that this regulation would have been extremely harmful for small organic farmers and consumers across the country. The high cost of complying with this rule would have likely driven many producers out of the organic farming business, leading to an estimated loss of $80-86 billion. This, in turn, would have driven up the cost of the organic products, harming consumers and reducing consumer choices.
“By requiring compliance with additional animal-welfare requirements for particular types of outdoor access, the Rule would have effectively blocked the sale of eggs that are simply organic in the ordinary sense that Congress outlined in the Act: organically fed, and free of growth promoters, hormones, and unnecessary synthetic medications. Taking that product off the market would have punished farmers for doing precisely what Congress asked. And it would have punished the many consumers who buy that product. If some producers want to offer organic products that also meet the Rule’s stringent requirements, and other consumers want to purchase those products, they are free to do so on the open market,” the States write.
“Removing this burdensome regulation was the right decision,” Hawley said. “We must continue fighting against these damaging Obama-era rules that over-regulate the work of farmers and harm consumers by driving up food prices.”
Missouri has 302 certified organic farms, totaling 41,078 acres. Missouri farmers produced 386 million organic eggs in 2016, generating over $70 million in revenue.
Missouri served as lead counsel on the brief and was joined by Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
A copy of the brief can be read here.