The USDA recently announced it would be withdrawing a series of organic livestock standards that were put into place during the Obama administration. Organic groups across the country are not happy with the move. John Siemon, CEO of the Wisconsin-based Organic Valley Cooperative, says one of the most important things the standards addressed was animal welfare. The battle over the standards began with outdoor access for poultry.
Siemon says the standard would put all organic farmers on a level playing field.
Siemon has been in the organic industry for several decades. He feels that if the rule is never implemented at the federal level, food retailers will likely move to similar organic standards because they don’t want to deceive or confuse their consumers. With no standards, what one company calls organic may not fit the federal definition.
He said the reason USDA gave for withdrawing the standards wasn’t valid.
While USDA is intending to withdraw the standards, Siemon was very happy to hear that organic farming was still on the mind of Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue.
A recent public comment period on the organic livestock standards closed this month and Siemon says USDA received approximately 70,000 comments. The Organic Trade Association filed a lawsuit against USDA, saying the Department of Ag didn’t follow its own rules in making the decision to withdraw the standards.
From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting News Service.