March 5, 2018

ASPCA Joins Legal Fight Against USDA for Better Organic Farm Animal Welfare

a pig covered in mud

Update—March 13, 2018: The USDA has formally withdrawn the rule.


March 5, 2018, 12:00PM ET  

After years of fighting to improve the lives of millions of animals raised on organic farms, the ASPCA is taking the fight to court. On Friday, March 2, the ASPCA filed an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief supporting an important case brought by the Organic Trade Association against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its continued delay in implementing a rule that would dramatically improve these animals’ lives. The brief was filed with the assistance of the law firm, Kator, Parks, Weiser & Harris, PLLC.

Demand for organic meat, eggs and dairy products has exploded in recent years. Most people assume that “USDA Organic” farm animals spend time outdoors, with the sun on their backs and grass beneath them. While the majority of organic farmers do embrace stronger animal welfare standards, the reality is that some large-scale “faux-ganic” brands are increasingly exploiting loopholes in the Organic program and raising animals in factory-like conditions. Industrial organic egg farms, for example, often use small, screened-in, concrete “porches” that prevent birds from ever touching grass or soil—despite the fact that consumers believe these eggs come from chickens with access to pasture. 

The final Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule would close the loopholes that are hurting animals, consumers and responsible farmers by requiring that all organic farms offer animals real outdoor access, among other improvements.

The ASPCA has fought for this rule alongside organic farmers, trade groups, companies, consumers, and others who agree that the current regulations are inadequate and vague. The rule was finalized during the Obama administration, only be to be subjected to delays by the current administration and, most recently, a proposal to withdraw the rule entirely. 

This is a travesty, and we will not rest until the tens of millions of animals raised on organic farms have better lives. We have joined the legal fight and we will continue to work with consumers so they know what they are—and are not—getting with their purchases.

Learn more about food labels and opportunities to play a meaningful role in our efforts to improve farm animals’ lives when you pledge to Shop With Your Heart.