Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule

What's the Background?

The National Organic Program ensures consistency and legitimacy in applying organic production claims to food product labels. Congress laid the groundwork for organic livestock products by setting parameters on how animals can be fed and when and what types of medications can be used. In April 2016, USDA proposed a regulation to “create greater consistency in organic livestock and poultry practices.” Among the rule’s provisions were ones that would: clarify how producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their health and well-being throughout life, including transport and slaughter; specify which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production; and establish minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry. But livestock industry-driven animal care and handling standards, such as the National Pork Board’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus program, already exist, and the programs can much more rapidly accommodate new practices and procedures that promote animal health and welfare than a federal rule could.

Why Does It Matter to Our Producers?

USDA’s new animal welfare standards for the National Organic Program, if enacted, would be the first time such criteria are codified in federal law and would present serious challenges to livestock producers. There are a number of problems with the new standards, including: animal production practices have nothing to do with the basic concept of “organic”; the standards add complexity to the organic certification process, creating significant barriers to existing and new organic producers; and they could jeopardize animal and public health.

What is NPPC's position?

NPPC opposes USDA’s Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule because it would incorporate animal welfare standards that are not based on science and that are outside the scope of the Organic Food Production Act of 1990, which limited consideration of livestock as organic to feeding and medication practices.

Further Resources