Angering Organic Farmers and Advocates, Trump's USDA Kills Animal Welfare Rule

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The Organic Trade Association, the main group in the sector, condemned the decision.

When the department moved to withdraw the rule in December, the industry group Organic Trade Association (OTA) said, "This groundless step by USDA is being taken against a backdrop of almost universal support among the organic businesses, and consumers for the fully vetted rules that USDA has now rejected".

USDA carefully considered public comments and the relative costs and benefits for both producers and consumers of imposing the proposed additional regulations.

National Farmers Union, however, said USDA's move will exacerbate consumer confusion about the meaning of the organic label and negatively impact organic producers.

While Greg Ibach, undersecretary for the USDA's marketing and regulatory program, claimed that "the existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective", organic farmers, animal rights advocates and consumers who have supported the enhanced regulations-which were published on January 19, 2017 and would have taken effect in May-expressed disappointment with the move.

The OTA has turned to the courts to force USDA to uphold the organic livestock standards.

Last May, Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, seeking to communicate his view of the agency's duty to the American people, said, "We owe it to the consumer to let them know we are concerned about their safety and the wholesomeness, nutritious capacity about the food they consume". The USDA delayed implementation of the rule three times before yesterday's announcement that it would formally withdraw the rule.

Thicke said a group of organic farmers in the U.S. have created their own label, the Real Organic Project, and hope to have pilot farms certified this summer with eventual rollout nationally. In a press release, it stated that the USDA had "without regard for public comment and without respect for legal authorities - irresponsibly thwarted a fully vetted regulation overwhelmingly supported by the organic industry and the public".

"This most recent egregious attempt by the Department to ignore the will of the organic industry and consumers does not halt our judicial review, but, in fact, furthers our resolve", Laura Batcha, CEO of the OTA said in a statement.

The Trump administration has chose to withdraw an Obama-era rule that would have set new standards for the way animals should be treated if their meat is going to be sold as "certified organic". "USDA's unconscionable action does not deter us".

The Organic Trade Association contends there is overwhelming support for the rule by the organic industry and consumers.

USDA is withdrawing the rule based on its current interpretation of 7 U.S. C. 6905, citing that the OLPP rule exceeds USDA's statutory authority.

The rule would have created significant barriers to existing and new organic producers, according to National Pork Producers Council. "America's organic livestock and poultry producers can now breathe easy that they can maintain the health of their flocks and herds the best way they see fit, and they will not be driven out of business by another government regulation".