Thanks, Obama! Departing Administration Strengthens “Organic Animal Welfare Standards

As one of its final acts, the Obama administration gave a big boost to the animal welfare standards under the federal government’s organic program last week. The new standards, though imperfect, will significantly improve the lives of millions of animals raised for the $40 billion-and-growing organic foods industry.

Under the new rules, which are supposed to take effect in March, organically raised chickens must be given more than twice as much indoor space as conventionally raised chickens receive, along with regular access to outdoor pasture. Other common but cruel practices — like chopping off animals’ beaks and tails and killing baby pigs by slamming their heads on the ground — will also be banned.

These new standards provide much-needed recognition from the highest level of government that farmed animals deserve better treatment. Shamefully, there is not even one federal law right now protecting farmed animals during their lives on factory farms. Mercy For Animals commends the Obama administration for taking a strong step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, some improvements pushed by animal advocates were not included in the final rules. There are no minimum space requirements for animals other than chickens, for example.

Worse still, the Trump administration has already moved to put on hold any new regulations recently implemented by the Obama administration, making it unclear how soon the new rules will take effect.

And with former Georgia governor Sonny Perdue expected to lead the Department of Agriculture under the new administration, we will see whether animal welfare remains a priority for the agency or whether it will try to roll this progress back. You can rest assured that MFA and our members will be doing everything in our power to hold decision makers accountable.

Either way, there is of course no such thing as humane meat. The best way to protect animals will always be simply to leave them off our plates by adopting a compassionate plant-based diet. Learn how by visiting