In this file:
· USDA Plans to Side With 'Fake Organic' Egg Producers, Ditch Animal Welfare Rule
· Last Chance to Save the Organic Animal Welfare Rule!
USDA Plans to Side With 'Fake Organic' Egg Producers, Ditch Animal Welfare Rule
By Katherine Paul and Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumers Association
via EcoWatch - Jan 11, 2018
If nutritional quality and animal welfare issues factor into your egg-buying decisions, get ready for more bad news out of the Trump administration's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The USDA plans to ditch rules, finalized under the Obama administration, that would have required organic egg producers to provide hens with more space and more outdoor access.
The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) Rule was the result of a 14-year effort by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to tighten up animal welfare rules for organic egg producers.
The OLPP was set to be enacted in January 2017. But under the incoming Trump administration's regulatory freeze, the rule was delayed multiple times. Now the USDA wants to throw it out completely.
If the agency succeeds, organic egg producers won't have to follow updated animal welfare rules—rules that the industry fought for, and that consumers overwhelmingly support.
Why would the USDA get rid of this law? To help "Big Organic" egg producers who already routinely ignore existing animal welfare standards keep pocketing higher profits.
If the OLPP is thrown out, "fake organic" egg producers will get to keep their production costs low. This will allow them to continue underselling smaller organic producers who follow the rules. At the same time, they capture a big share of the organic egg market by selling their eggs under the USDA Organic seal.
In other words, it's a great way to feather their nests.
These practices not only make it more difficult for smaller organic egg farmers to compete, they also cheat consumers who believe certified organic means higher animal welfare standards. Instead consumers are unknowingly buying eggs from producers who run nothing more than industrial-scale operations indistinguishable from factory farms apart from the type of feed they use. The result are eggs of inferior nutritional quality. (Studies show that authentic certified organic eggs have a deeper yoke color which translates into higher levels of Vitamin A, Omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and beta carotene).
Better nutrition and better animal welfare standards aren't the only benefit for consumers who buy authentic certified organic eggs. Organic eggs produced by ethical farms where hens have real access to pasture, including organic regenerative poultry systems, have far less impact on the environment than those that come from factory farm-type egg operations that pollute with impunity.
Who are the "Big Organic" egg producers? Cal-Maine Foods and Herbruck's, which was the subject of a Washington Post exposé last year. Herbruck's sells some of its eggs under the Eggland's Best brand. But the bulk of the eggs sold by these producers end up on store shelves under private label (store brand) names.
In fact, most retail grocery chains that sell "organic" eggs under their own label...
Last Chance to Save the Organic Animal Welfare Rule!
Source: Animal Welfare Institute
January 11, 2018
In early January 2017, the USDA published an Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule designed to improve the standard of living for millions of organically raised animals across the country. This rule enjoys widespread support and represents the culmination of a decades-long process involving multiple stakeholders. Now, however, the USDA has announced it intends to withdraw this rule, claiming it lacks authority to regulate animal welfare.
In reality, the department has a history of regulating animal welfare under the National Organic Program (NOP), including setting standards for animal care and living conditions. Contrary to the USDA’s new position, the OLPP rule does not expand the government’s authority—it merely clarifies existing NOP standards. This clarification would ensure that all producers provide a consistent level of animal welfare for organically raised livestock and poultry.
The USDA’s decision reverses course without a reasonable justification and without following proper legal procedure. It also defies the will of consumers and nearly all organic farmers.
What You Can Do
Please join AWI in urging the USDA to not withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule. You can use AWI’s Compassion Index to submit your comments by the January 17 deadline. (Note: Your name and comments will be publicly viewable on Regulations.gov.) You may also submit your comments directly at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=AMS-NOP-15-0012-6686 .
Be sure to share our “Dear Humanitarian” eAlert with family, friends, and co-workers, and encourage them to comment, too. The comment period on this petition closes soon, so don’t delay: Take action today!
Director, Farm Animal Program
P.S. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates on the action above and other important animal protection news.