CCOF Welcomes USDA Rule to Address Animal Welfare

On January 18, 2017, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) released the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule. CCOF strongly supports the rule because it requires high animal welfare standards, including sufficient outdoor access for poultry. The rule would make the standards that CCOF has always required of its certified operations applicable to all USDA organic producers.

CCOF was one of the first organizations to call for more consistency in verifying that organic poultry have sufficient outdoor access. We are pleased that UDSA is bringing clarity for consumers, ensuring strong animal welfare protections across the board in organic certification.

The new rule will accomplish the following:

  • Ensure that all organic animals live in pasture-based systems.
  • Establish minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for organic chickens.
  • Clarify that outdoor spaces must include soil and vegetation.
  • Add humane handling requirements.
  • Clarify humane slaughter requirements.

In a recent blog entry, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service administrator Elanor Starmer noted that most organic livestock and poultry producers already use these practices.

Most of the new livestock and poultry rules must be implemented within one year. However, organic broiler production space requirements must be implemented within three years, and organic egg operation outdoor access requirements must be implemented within five years.

Visit the NOP web page for the final rule, fact sheets, and a webinar explaining the new requirements.

Stay tuned for the Summer 2017 edition of Certified Organic magazine, where we’ll explore the rule in more detail and highlight some CCOF members who are leaders in organic livestock production.