Stop the USDA From Reversing Protections for Animals at Organic Farms

Whether it’s promoting meat trade with China, withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, or selecting Brian Klippenstein—a man who runs an anti-animal-protection lobbying organization—to lead the USDA transition, corporate interests are clearly more important to the Trump administration than animal suffering. But we’ve reached a new low. On January 11, the USDA announced it is withdrawing minimum animal welfare standards for organic farms set by the Obama administration.

Mercy For Animals has submitted its formal comments to the USDA—but we need your help. We can, and must, stop this heartless reversal, and we have until January 17 to voice our opposition.

Reversal of the organics rule comes despite nearly two decades of work by the organic food industry, animal protection groups, and consumers to ensure that animal products labeled “organic” meet at least basic animal welfare standards. Withdrawal of the rule means that the 22 million animals in the organic food industry will continue to suffer the cruelest (but customary) industry practices. It also betrays the vast majority of organic consumers, 86 percent of whom believe that animal products labeled organic should comply with welfare standards higher than those of conventional products.

While use of animals for organic food is still inhumane, this rule would create great improvements for farmed animals, especially birds, who have few legal protections. Among other things, the rule would prohibit mutilations, such as cutting off horns, toes, and beaks, and set minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements, providing at least some access to outdoor vegetation. It would also require medical treatment for animals too injured to walk and set at least some limit to how tightly animals can be packed together at farms.

If you’re wondering why the Trump administration would reverse such a reasonable rule, you need only follow the money. This reversal is primarily driven by the large, powerful corporations selling “faux-ganic” meat and other animal products. The USDA has a horrible track record of regulating the meaning of “organic,” leading to rampant fraud. Without this rule, faux-ganic brands can continue to charge higher prices for an organic label without actually having to adopt meaningful welfare practices.

Clearly we must do everything in our power to voice our dissent. Go on the USDA portal to submit a comment by January 17, telling the USDA you oppose its decision. Personalized comments work best, but if you are unsure of what to say, you can say something like this:
I oppose the withdrawal of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule. Consumers like me expect higher standards of animal welfare from the organic food industry. Withdrawing the rule would put the profits of rich corporate executives over the interests of consumers, animals, and organic farmers. Plus, the credibility of the organic label will be shattered. You should not withdraw the rule but let it go into effect as soon as possible.
And remember: While this rule would lessen animal suffering, organic animal farming is still anything but humane. The best thing we can all do to protect animals is to leave them off our plates altogether and end the abuse of animals for food once and for all.