April 24, 2017

National Organic Standards Board Champions Animal Welfare

a black cow

The ASPCA commends the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the board that advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the direction of its Organic label, for taking a stand for animals.

Last Friday (April 21), following a public meeting at which the ASPCA testified, the Board voted unanimously to pass a rare resolution urging the USDA to implement the long-awaited, final set of animal welfare standards for animals raised under its USDA Organic label.The rule brings the Organic label closer to meeting consumers’ expectations regarding animal welfare.

The USDA, under the new administration, has already delayed the rule once, pushing the effective date back from March until May. With the new Secretary of Agriculture expected to be confirmed later today, the NOSB has sent a strong message to USDA leadership that animal welfare rules are critical to the livelihoods of organic farmers, to the consumers who pay a premium believing organic animals are treated better, and of course, for the 50 million animals raised in the USDA Organic program each year.

The majority of farmers, including those represented by groups like the Organic Trade Association and the National Organic Coalition, support the rule and already comply with its requirements. But a small handful of “faux-ganic” producers raise animals under the USDA Organic label in factory-farm-like conditions. These companies have been making a lot of noise in Washington—even trying to get members of Congress to kill the rule—in order to drown out the supportive voices of farmers and consumers.

The ASPCA has worked closely with the NOSB for years to help shape these rules. NOSB’s twice-yearly meetings are the most fair and transparent forum available for problem-solving and collaborative policymaking among farmers, retailers and distributers as well as environmental, consumer advocacy and animal advocacy groups. We strongly applaud this vote, which was a huge step for the NOSB.