ASPCA President Matt Bershadker’s Statement on USDA’s Decision to Delay Stronger Animal Welfare in Organic Program

ASPCA President Matt Bershadker’s Statement on USDA’s Decision to Delay Stronger Animal Welfare in Organic Program

November 9th, 2017

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) condemns the USDA’s decision to further delay implementation of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule. We share the disappointment and frustration felt by many farmers, retailers, health and animal advocates, consumers, and the National Organic Standards Board over the USDA’s choice to put corporate interests ahead of responsible farming, consumer rights, and animal welfare. 

This delay is another example of powerful agribusiness entities trampling vital animal welfare protections. Too often, Big Ag unilaterally dictates how the majority of U.S. farm animals are raised, and misleads consumers through deceptive food labeling. According to a 2014 survey, 68 percent of organic product consumers assume that animals in the National Organic Program have access to outdoor pasture and fresh air throughout the day, even though no clear requirement currently exists to regulate the type and length of outdoor access.

The new organic rule would require outdoor access for egg-laying hens and all other farm animals, establish indoor and outdoor space requirements for chickens, restrict the physical alterations of animals, set new standards for animal transport and slaughter, and institute other crucial minimum regulations. In addition to codifying these requirements, the rule would also bring organic standards closer to consumers’ animal welfare expectations.

The USDA’s frequent delays have also enabled a few “faux-ganic” producers to continue cultivating their unfair advantage over higher welfare organic farmers by exploiting loopholes in the standard. 

It took 17 years to develop the OLPP – the first-ever comprehensive federal standards for on-farm animal welfare – and we will not be deterred in our determination to see these standards in place. It’s the humane thing to do for animals, the responsible thing to do for consumers, and the fair thing to do for farmers.

To find out more about the ASPCA's work to improve the USDA Organic label, visit www.ASPCA.org/organic.