[19 December/Food Dive]

The US Agriculture Department plans to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule which establishes animal welfare standards for organic agriculture according to official documents. The USDA believes establishing the rule would exceed its statutory authority. Organic bodies immediately amended lawsuits they had already served against the USDA for delaying the implementation of the rule put in place just before President Obama left office, arguing that it makes no sense for the Trump Administration to pursue actions that could damage a marketplace that is giving American farmers a profitable alternative. Conventional livestock groups opposed the rule (which requires animals to exhibit natural behaviours) arguing it was not based on science and was outside the scope of the Organic Food Production Act. Consumer pressure for establishing organic animal welfare standards could be the wild card in this situation but it appears likely the issue will end up being decided in court.