It was probably done with a wry smile.  Any Federal Agency finalizing regulations on the eve of the inauguration of an administration that’s said it will cut 75% (“maybe more”) of all regulations has a panache that can’t be denied.  Especially a regulation geared at defining the methods used in large-scale “organic” operations.

On January 19th, the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service published its final rule (82 FR 7042) “amending the organic livestock and poultry requirements adding new provisions for livestock handling and transport for slaughter and avian living conditions; and expanding and clarifying existing requirements covering livestock care and production practices and mammalian living conditions.”

“The rule clarifies how organic producers and handlers must treat their animals, brings clarity to the existing USDA organic regulations, and adds new requirements for organic livestock and poultry living conditions, transport, and slaughter practices.”

The rule will be fully implemented by March 20, 2018 with two exceptions for egg production and broiler production that will phase in finally by 2020.  From the USDA AMS’ published Questions and Answers on the final rule:

The final rule addresses the following key points:

  1. Requires that producers provide animals with daily access to the outdoors and that outdoor areas include vegetation and/or soil. Additionally, exit doors must be distributed to ensure animals have ready access to the outdoors. It does not allow enclosed porches to be considered outdoors or to meet the requirement for outdoor access.

  2. Specifies the amount of space required indoors for chicken broilers and layers, prohibits forced molting, restricts the use of artificial light, limits the amount of ammonia in the air indoors, and requires perching space for laying chickens indoors.

  3. Describes when producers can confine animals indoors temporarily and codifies flexibility for producers to confine animals when their health, safety or well-being could be jeopardized.

  4. Adds humane handling requirements for transporting livestock and poultry to sale or slaughter, and clarifies humane slaughter requirements.

  5. Prohibits several kinds of physical alteration, like de-beaking chickens or docking cows’ tails.

  6. Provides a phased implementation plan, allowing producers reasonable time to implement the rule.

But if you disagree with these standards, the “final” portion of this may not be a done deal.  These new regulations will certainly place constrictions on operations that seek to hold more animals per capita which has caused some legislators are already start opposing this rule.

Finally, because we know how much you love a good infographic – and the USDA doesn’t like to disappoint – here’s this rule explained by some stellar graphic artists:

organic-livestock-and-poultry-infographic

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