The nation’s organic food movement published an open letter in the Washington Post Tuesday demanding that the USDA stop interfering with standards for animal welfare in organic food production.
In a full-page paid advertisement, the group asks USDA Sec. Sonny Perdue to reinstate the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule that was issued in January 2017. The letter states that the OLPP clarifies and codifies animal welfare practices that give consumers what they expect when it comes to organic food choices, and is the result of a lawful 20-year process with bipartisan support. The group says that is now being subverted by political interference and the influence of industrial agriculture.
“We have seen industrial agriculture fight against animal welfare again and again, whether it is cage-free or ending gestation crates,” said George Siemon, CEO of Organic Valley, who convened the cosigners. “Now, when organic wants consistent animal welfare standards supported by a strong public process, industrial agriculture’s fears are trumping. They don’t want any expectations for animal welfare in agriculture, period. This is a clear case where USDA replaces established process with the dictate of industrial livestock to stop any animal welfare rules living at USDA—purely political and against organic.”
Siemon continued, “Organic belongs to the people, and the law says so. The organic seal belongs to the farmers, handlers, processors, and consumers who choose organic for their families. It is a system that is supported by a stakeholder process, that provides a lifeline to family farms, and that allows consumers to buy food that meets a higher standard for animal welfare.”
Cosigners include: Organic Valley, Stonyfield Farms, Horizon Organic, Whole Foods Market, National Co+Op Grocers, Applegate, Vital Farms, Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs, Maple Hill Creamery, National Farmers Union, Dr. Bronner’s, The Humane Society of the United States, Organic Trade Association, Rodale Institute, Environmental Working Group, Oregon Tilth, Farm Aid, Union of Concerned Scientists, Center for Science in the Public Interest, National Family Farm Coalition, Consumer Federation of America, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, National Organic Coalition, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Accredited Certifiers Association, and others.