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USDA Sets Tougher Animal-Welfare Standards for Organic Farming in Recently Published Final Rule

  • As consumers increasingly demand ethically-minded foods such as “Cage Free” and “Pasture Raised”, animal welfare has become a hot-button issue in the food industry.  Coupled with a heightened focus from animal welfare advocacy groups on animal raising conditions, several states have been considering imposing minimum size requirements for farm animal containment.  And this past November, Massachusetts became the first state to regulate containment conditions for food animals.

  • On January 19, 2017, USDA jumped into the fray, publishing a controversial final rule on organic livestock and poultry which establishes minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for chickens as a function of type of production and stage of life. 82 FR 7042.  The final rule also:

    • Clarifies how producers and handlers participating in USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) must treat organic livestock and poultry to ensure their well-being;

    • Clarifies when and how certain physical alterations may be performed on organic livestock and poultry in order to minimize stress;

    • Defines outdoor space and requires that outdoor spaces for organic poultry include soil and vegetation;

    • Adds new requirements for transporting organic livestock and poultry to sale or slaughter; and

    • Clarifies the application of USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) requirements regarding the handling of livestock and poultry in connection with slaughter to certified organic livestock and poultry establishments, and provides for the enforcement of USDA organic regulations based on FSIS inspection findings.

  • As set forth in the final rule, these new requirements are slated to be fully implemented by March 20, 2018.  That said, with a new administration at the helm, the ultimate fate of this rule remains unclear.

© 2020 Keller and Heckman LLPNational Law Review, Volume VII, Number 25
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Keller and Heckman offers global food and drug services to its clients. Our comprehensive and extensive food and drug practice is one of the largest in the world. We promote, protect, and defend products made by the spectrum of industries regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the European Commission and Member States authorities in the European Union (EU) and similar authorities throughout the world. The products we help get to market include foods, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, veterinary products, dietary supplements, and cosmetics. In addition...

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