Monday, October 2, 2023

USDA proposes new standards for organic poultry and livestock

By Elizabeth Poisson Poultry Times staff

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. — The USDA has announced the Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards proposed rule in the Federal Register. The pending regulation demonstrated new conditions for livestock and organic poultry living conditions, care, transport and slaughter. This proposed regulation would make changes to the USDA organic rules to give a more fair, competitive edge for the market of organic livestock producers.

The organic chicken market predicts a market value of $8.73 billion from 2021 to 2026, according to the latest market report from Technavio. This new rule would ensure that certified USDA livestock items are manufactured at the same standard.

“This proposed Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards rule demonstrates USDA’s strong commitment to America’s organic producers,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We encourage producers, processors and consumers to submit written comments about the rule so that we can work together to create a fairer, more competitive and transparent food system.”

“This rulemaking is an opportunity to ensure consumers’ expectations align with the enforced organic standards, building trust across the supply chain and leveling the playing field for producers,” Jenny Lester Moffitt, USDA under secretary of marketing and regulatory, said. “With this proposed rule, USDA is seeking to establish and clarify clear standards for organic livestock and poultry production.”

When this new rule is completed, the USDA’s National Organic Program, will direct the new regulation as it goes into effect. It is the NOP’s job to create and implement standards to give farmers, ranchers and businesses to establish an equal playing field. The USDA has partnered with accredited agents and the NOP’s supervision supports the expansion of the organic market along with farmers and their businesses want to make a transition to organic poultry. There is written comment section for the public to voice their opinions for the new regulation and the section will close midnight 60 days from the publication.

The National Chicken Council is still evaluating the pending regulation. Back in 2016, a similar rule was given regarding a chicken’s health, the safety of food and the preservation of an organic food program. The organization claimed that the new regulation went against the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service suggestions for biosecurity.

At this time, the NCC released a statement regarding a similar proposal in which Ashley Peterson, NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, said “NCC is concerned that the proposed rule imposes unreasonable costs and requirements of doubtful benefit on organic farmers, presents grave risks to animal health and undermines ongoing international efforts to develop poultry welfare standards.” NCC added that the new rule would raise the mortality rates in laying hens and broiler chickens from 5 percent to 8 percent.

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