OMB finishes organic livestock rule |

OMB finishes organic livestock rule

The Office of Management and Budget said Jan. 14 it has completed its review of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, which clears it for release by the Agriculture Department, but OMB also said it is still reviewing a proposed aquaculture rule.

The Organic Trade Association said it is “happy to see the Office of Management and Budget has completed its review of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule,” and said USDA should finalize the rule even though some agriculture groups have opposed it because it would require birds raised as organic to spend time outdoors even though there is fear of avian influenza.

OTA continued, “This proposed organic standard is strongly supported by the vast majority of organic egg producers both large and small, and most major organic brands view finalizing these regulations as not only welcome but essential.”

“It reflects over a decade of public input through the organic industry’s transparent process to set these voluntary standards that farmers, ranchers and food makers opt-in to,” OTA said. “Clarified standards will level the playing field for organic livestock and poultry producers while providing adequate flexibility so that producers can keep their herds and flocks healthy. We hope to see these standards finalized.”

OTA concluded, “It should be noted that for organic producers it is already common practice for birds to go outside, and there is no scientific risk assessment to substantiate fears that organic methods lessen protection of birds from avian flu. The organic standards currently allow for temporary confinement of birds to protect their safety. In fact, these pending standards, as proposed, will further strengthen protocols for confining birds in migratory pathways and codify bio security practices.”

Michigan Agri-Business Association President Jim Byrum said in a news release that the discovery of avian flu in a mallard duck in Montana “is precisely the reason why we have opposed USDA’s misguided effort to force organic hens to be exposed to the outdoors. In light of this announcement, USDA should immediately end any consideration of an organic rule that would threaten hens nationwide and put farm families at needless risk of economic devastation.”

— The Hagstrom Report

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