USDA Commits to Taking Action on Organic Animal Welfare Rule

ASPCA welcomes agency’s decision to revisit standards that would have required more humane animal housing, transportation, and slaughter
June 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today welcomed an announcement from U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack regarding the agency’s intention to again take up improved farm animal welfare standards that had been addressed under the since-withdrawn Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule.

The OLPP rule was finalized in January 2017, but one of the first actions by the USDA under the Trump administration was to delay, and ultimately withdraw, the rule, leaving millions of animals without meaningful protections against factory farm-like conditions and leaving the organic label out of step with consumer demands.

"We’re encouraged to see the USDA committing to take urgently needed action to address inconsistencies and loopholes in the National Organic Program that have put the lives and welfare of millions of animals at risk,” said Matt Bershadker, ASPCA President and CEO. “This program should be protecting animals raised on organic farms—not allowing cruel farming practices and obscuring the truth about how these animals are raised—and the ASPCA is dedicated to ensuring the USDA’s welfare standards are meaningful for animals and meet public expectations.”

The ASPCA strongly opposed the withdrawal of the OLPP rule and has continued advocating for its reinstatement ever since. Tens of thousands of advocates submitted comments in support of the rule, which would have finally closed loopholes in organic animal welfare standards that allowed companies to get away with keeping chickens, laying hens, and turkeys on closed concrete “porches” instead of providing them with meaningful outdoor access. The rule also provided much more detail around important standards like indoor space allowances, environmental enrichments, pain control, transport, and slaughter, and brought the USDA Organic Program more in-line with consumer expectations of the label.

The ASPCA’s Shop with Your Heart program launched in 2016 to inform consumers, food businesses, and lawmakers about solutions that will improve the lives of the nearly 10 billion animals raised for food in the U.S. each year. To learn more about what the USDA Organic label means for farm animal welfare or to find out which labels and claims truly indicate better conditions for farm animals, please visit