Leading Organic Industry Watchdog Blasts USDA – Calls “Animal Welfare” Rulemaking a Betrayal to Farmers and Consumers

Cornucopia’s attorney and policy experts found that the hodgepodge of new recommendations in the USDA’s proposal includes lenient elements that will institutionalize industrial livestock factories managing as many as two million chickens, or 18,000 dairy cows. At the same time, the policy group found brand new proposals that would require conditions that could put everyone currently producing organic milk on family-scale dairy farms out of business.

“We are calling this move by the USDA ‘cynical’ because reaction from the organic community and industry will provoke so much blowback that it makes the likelihood of the rule’s timely implementation highly unrealistic,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for The Cornucopia Institute, a public interest group based in Wisconsin.

At the same time, the Cornucopia analysis found that new requirements for dairy farmers to provide stalls for their animals that are wide enough that they can lie down laterally would result in the cows being able to urinate and defecate within their stalls, resulting in filthy and wet bedding. This would seriously compromise dairy cow health and hygienic sanitation of the organic milk supply.

“There is a reason why cows, in stalls, have their rear ends pointed toward the ‘gutter’ in dairy barns,” stated Ed Maltby, executive director of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance. “Cows must be positioned correctly to defecate outside of their stalls and away from their bedding. This rule will actually degrade the welfare of dairy animals rather than enhance it.”

Many of the most objectionable proposals in this draft rule had never been debated by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), nor subjected to the structured process for participation with organic industry stakeholders. The USDA is mandated by law to consult with the NOSB on organic policy.

– WebWireID203570 –