USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service is proposing an amendment to the organic livestock and poultry production requirements, changes that would producers to follow stricter animal welfare rules.

As the demand for organic products continues to grow at a record pace, AMS says the changes are being proposed to ensure consistent application of the USDA organic regulations for organic livestock and poultry operations and maintain confidence in organically labeled products. The proposed changes are based on recommendations by the National Organic Standards Board and incorporate years of public comment and suggestions by stakeholders.

“The demand for organic agriculture continues to grow each year and these proposed changes will build on USDA’s efforts to support organic producers,” says Elanor Starmer, AMS administrator.  “By strengthening standards for organic livestock and poultry, we are ensuring that we meet consumer expectations and maintain the integrity of the organic seal to support the sector’s continued growth. This proposal sets clear standards for organic animals, providing clarity to organic operations and certifying agents, and establishing a level playing field for all producers.”  

The proposal is designed to provide clear guidance for organic producers and handlers to provide for their animal’s welfare. Major provisions include:

-Clarifying how producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their health and wellbeing throughout life, including transport and slaughter. 

-Specifying which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production. 

-Establishing minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry.  

The proposed rule will be published soon in the Federal Register and is available to view now here