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Agricultural News

ODAFF Calls Proposed Rule an Effort to Redefine Organic Production as Animal Welfare

Tue, 12 Jul 2016 16:49:10 CDT

ODAFF Calls Proposed Rule an Effort to Redefine Organic Production as Animal Welfare The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service proposed a rule last April in reference to the National Organic Program on organic livestock and poultry practices. The proposed rule would set and enforce clear and consistent standards to ensure consistency and transparency in organic production practices to strengthen consumer confidence and protect the integrity of the organic seal, according to the National Organic Standards Board.

Current USDA organic regulation requirements have been identified as general and unfocused in ensuring organic livestock and poultry welfare. The proposal will eliminate these inconsistencies by addressing four broad areas including living conditions, animal healthcare, transport and slaughter.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry submitted the following formal comments on the proposed rule today.

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry has several concerns regarding the USDA-AMS proposed organic livestock and poultry rule and feel strongly it is an effort to redefine organic production as animal welfare.

Organic production has historically pertained to fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and pharmaceuticals. The recommended regulations relating almost exclusively to animal welfare practices and housing have no relation to artificial chemicals and therefor have no relation to the historical definition of organic.

The provisions prohibit practices such as beak trimming, caponization, cattle wattling, de-beaking, de-snooding, dubbing, mulesing, and toe-trimming. ODAFF not only feels that these practices are no longer used in farming, and are only included to elicit outrage from an already ag-hostile constituency. We think it appropriate for USDA to encourage such misperception for ag producers.

The proposed rule would eliminate the use of solid structure roofs or covered porches which subjects livestock and poultry to brutal summer heat with no shade and contact with wild birds and animals that are known vectors for Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) and exotic Newcastle disease. This provision of the proposed rule is also in direct conflict with the Food & Drug Administration’s (FDA) Egg Safety Rule requirements to prevent the introduction of Salmonella enteritidis from wild birds and other sources.

The National Assembly of State Health Officials states “this proposed rule is in conflict with our efforts to educate and encourage use of biosecurity actions to help minimize exposure to wild birds. The proposal eliminates an option farmers have to better protect their flocks, while maintaining organic principles and certification. The proposed rule actually requires direct outdoor exposure and contact with birds and animals which is known to be contrary to sound principles of biosecurity and poultry health in general. AMS acknowledges the increased risk, so the fact that this change in the rule is even being considered is a major concern.”

According to NASDA, following the nation’s most devastating animal incident, the 2014-2015 Avian Influenza outbreak, U.S. trading partners imposed bans on all shipments of U.S. poultry and products, and thirty-eight trading partners imposed partial or regional bans on shipments from states or parts of states with HPAI cases. China, Russia, and South Korea, three of the top ten destinations for U.S. poultry meat in 2014, banned all imports of U.S. poultry.

Our opposition to USDA’s proposed rule in no way reflects ODAFF’s support of organic production. We believe organic producers are an essential part of the agriculture industry worldwide and play an integral part in feeding a growing world population. Organic producers provide diversity and necessary options for consumers and producers as well.

Learn more about the National Organic Program's proposed rule by clicking, here.

Read the proposed rule on the Federal Register by clicking, here.

To view FAQs on the proposed rule, click here.



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