The USDA today announced the decision to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule published on Jan. 19, 2017. The rule would have increased federal regulation of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers. The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018.
Significant policy and legal issues were identified after the rule published in January 2017. After careful review and two rounds of public comment, the USDA has determined that the rule exceeds the department’s statutory authority, and that the changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers.
“The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective,” says USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach. “The organic industry’s continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers.”
According to USDA reports for 2017, the number of certified organic operations increased domestically by 7% and globally by 11%. Industry estimates show that organic sales in the United States reached almost $47 billion in 2016, reflecting an increase of almost $3.7 billion since 2015.
The National Pork Producers Council applauds the official withdrawal. Rather than issuing new comments, the NPPC stands by comments they made back in December when U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue had said the department would be withdrawing the rule.
“We’d like to thank Secretary Perdue and the Trump administration for listening to our concerns with the rule and recognizing the serious challenges it would have presented our producers,” said then-NPPC President Ken Maschhoff, a pork producer from Carlyle, Ill.
NPPC raised a number of problems with the regulation, including animal and public health concerns and the fact that animal production practices have nothing to do with the basic concept of “organic.” NPPC also cited the complexity the standards would have added to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers.
The USDA carefully considered public comments and the relative costs and benefits for both producers and consumers of imposing the proposed additional regulations.
More information on the OLPP final rule is available in the March 13 Federal Register, and on the USDA National Organic Program web page.
Sources: USDA, National Pork Producers Council