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USDA Set to Issue Proposed Organic Livestock Standards.

Monday, April 11, 2016

(North American Meat Institute)

The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) put on public display a proposed rule that would amend organic livestock and poultry production requirements to include specific guidance on animal welfare. The proposed rule would clarify how producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry purportedly to ensure their health and well-being throughout life, including during transport and slaughter; specify which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production; and establish minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry.

Under the proposal, organic livestock would receive unencumbered access to the outdoors at all times, unless the animals need to be confined to protect them from predators. Living spaces must be large enough for animals to lie down, stand and fully stretch their limbs without touching other animals or the sides of the shelter. Meanwhile, animals that are sick, injured, weak, disabled, blind or lame cannot be transported for sale or slaughter, and must be either medically treated or euthanized. The proposed rule also bans de-beaking of chickens and turkeys, and tail docking of cattle and sheep.

Public comments will be accepted for 60 days following the proposed rule’s publication in the Federal Register. Comments may be submitted either online or by mail to Paul Lewis, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, Room 2646-So., Ag Stop 0268, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, DC 20250-0268.

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