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"The Department of Agriculture is taking final steps to withdraw the organic animal welfare rule, setting an effective date for the regulation’s formal repeal. USDA announced plans to withdraw the rule in December, saying that the regulation as written “would exceed USDA’s statutory authority.” Tomorrow, USDA is expected to formally publish in the Federal Register documentation that will withdraw the rule – formally dubbed the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule – effective May 13. USDA pointed out that a number of commenters – which the department says includes organic farmers, state departments of agriculture, and trade associations – agreed that the rule went beyond granted authority. “These commenters stated that withdrawing the OLPP final rule would prevent increased costs to producers and consumers from costly structural changes and higher prices for organic eggs, respectively,” USDA noted. There was also concern about the requirements for increased outdoor access for poultry and the elimination of covered porches as qualifying square footage. USDA noted the worries that the increased access “would heighten disease risk and interfere with biosecurity practices.” In a statement, Greg Ibach, USDA’s marketing and regulatory program undersecretary, said the “robust” regulations already governing organic livestock and poultry production are effective...The Organic Trade Association, however, will add this to a legal complaint against USDA for acting to delay the rule in the first place. That suit was filed when USDA failed to implement the rule – finalized in the last days of the Obama administration last year – before it was ultimately withdrawn...“The USDA’s unconscionable action does not deter us,” said Laura Batcha, OTA CEO and executive director. “We will continue our fight in the court … This latest action by USDA will only invigorate and solidify more support for this regulation.”"

Posted March 12th, 2018