Organic industry sues USDA to release organic livestock standards
The Organic Trade Association, joined by organic livestock farmers, organic certification agencies, and organic retailers and consumers, on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Agriculture Department over its decision not to move forward with a rule on new organic livestock standards.
“We are standing up on behalf of the entire organic sector to protect organic integrity, advance animal welfare and demand the government keep up with the industry and the consumer in setting organic standards,” said Laura Batcha, executive director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association.
“The suit alleges that USDA violated the Organic Foods Production Act, and unlawfully delayed the effective date of the final livestock standards that were developed by industry and in accordance with the processes established by Congress, and with abusing the agency’s discretion by ignoring the overwhelming public record established in support of these organic standards,” OTA said in a news release.
The trade association further contends that the Trump administration’s regulatory freeze order issued to federal agencies on Jan. 20 should not apply to organic standards because they are voluntary and are required only of those farms and businesses that opt to be certified organic.
The animal welfare rule was developed late in the Obama administration but was controversial because larger organic egg and meat producers objected to it. After Donald Trump was inaugurated as president on Jan. 20, the administration stopped the rule.