Organic industry sues over USDA withdrawal of livestock standards

Court challenge seeks to immediately vacate USDA’s rescission and allow law to go into effect.


Jacqui Fatka, Feedstuffs 

Oct 31, 2019


The Organic Trade Assn. (OTA) on Thursday asked a U.S. district court to rule in its favor on its organic livestock welfare lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In its motion for summary judgment, the trade group stated that USDA acted in an “unlawful, arbitrary and capricious way” when it withdrew proposed new organic livestock standards centered around improving animal care and welfare.


OTA argued that USDA blocking implementation and rescission of the Organic Livestock & Poultry Practices (OLPP) rule in 2018 was an action plainly in excess of lawful authority that, if not corrected, threatens the consumer trust and historical growth the organic industry has always enjoyed. The motion asks the court to immediately vacate USDA’s rescission and compel implementation of the OLPP rule.


The association contends that the case has importance to all organic stakeholders because USDA made legal arguments that will reverberate adversely for years if not corrected by the federal judiciary. OTA argued that USDA’s refusal to exercise its statutory authority to promote the improved livestock care practices on organic farms that were lost when the OLPP rule was rescinded and its refusal to consult with the National Organic Standards Board are a radical departure from past administrations and flatly contradict the intent of Congress in the Organic Foods Production Act.


OTA said in a statement it is further challenging USDA’s “opaque assumptions over the cost and benefits of the approved regulation.”


The filing’s conclusion on USDA’s economic analysis states that USDA “has inconsistently and opportunistically framed the costs and benefits of the OLPP” and failed to “meaningfully consider” the rule’s substantial benefits. The filing further states that in USDA’s economic arguments, the agency neglected to support its own judgments and, in fact, “contradicted itself.”


OTA executive director and chief executive officer Laura Batcha said...