USDA withdraws organic livestock, poultry final rule

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) officially decided to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule published on January 19, 2017. The rule would have increased federal regulation of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers. The withdrawal becomes effective May 13, 2018.

The agency had revealed in December 2017 its intent to withdraw the OLPP final rule, but added that it would continue to accept public comments concerning the withdrawal through January 17, 2018.

Significant policy and legal issues were identified after the rule was published in January 2017, according to a press release issued by the USDA on March 12. After careful review and two rounds of public comment, USDA determined that the rule exceeds the department’s statutory authority, and that the changes to the existing organic regulations could have a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program, including real costs for producers and consumers.

“The existing robust organic livestock and poultry regulations are effective,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Program Undersecretary Greg Ibach. “The organic industry’s continued growth domestically and globally shows that consumers trust the current approach that balances consumer expectations and the needs of organic producers and handlers.”

According to USDA reports for 2017, the number of certified organic operations increased domestically by seven percent and globally by 11 percent. Industry estimates show that organic sales in the United States reached almost $47 billion in 2016, reflecting an increase of almost $3.7 billion since 2015.

The department stated that it carefully considered public comments and the relative costs and benefits for both producers and consumers of imposing the proposed additional regulations.

More information on the OLPP final rule is available in the March 12, 2018, Federal Register, and on the USDA National Organic Program web page.

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