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NMPF Supports USDA Withdrawal of Organic Animal Welfare Standards

April 5, 2018

In mid-March, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) USDA formally withdrew a final rule regarding animal welfare standards, acting on a recommendation from NMPF supporting the department’s proposal after the agency requested comments last December.

The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, originally published in January 2017, proposed imposing a variety of new animal care and housing standards for farms covered by the certified organic program. NMPF initially expressed concern about the proposed standards in July 2016, saying the changes fall short of those already employed by the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) Animal Care Program.

In its most recent comments, NMPF stated that the FARM Animal Care Program assures animal care and wellbeing throughout the U.S. dairy industry, thus the requirements in USDA’s final rule are unnecessary and duplicative for dairy cattle. Furthermore, the basis of the FARM Animal Care Program is sound science, and its standards are updated every three years to accommodate the latest research around animal health and wellbeing.

On March 13, USDA formally withdrew the rule, determining it exceeded USDA’s statutory authority. USDA said withdrawing it was justified after assessing rule’s benefits and burdens, as NMPF comments consistently stated.