Rule changes governing organic livestock and poultry practices in the US are about to be released for “public comment” as part of the country’s national organics programme.
Produced by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) agricultural marketing service (AMS), the rule changes are described as an “important step” that will strengthen consumer confidence in the organic label and ensure that organic agriculture continues to provide economic opportunities for farmers, ranchers and businesses throughout the US.
“The proposed changes aim to clarify how organic producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their health and wellbeing throughout life, including transport and slaughter,” said AMS. “They will also clarify existing USDA organic regulations and add new requirements for organic livestock and poultry living conditions, transport and slaughter practices.
“For example, the proposed changes will establish minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for organic poultry and clarify that outdoor spaces must be soil-based.”
The retail market for organic products is now valued at more than $39 billion in the US, having grown by 12% in the last year.
USDA, in response, has strengthened its programmes over the last seven years, supporting organic operations by helping to make organic certification more accessible, attainable and affordable.
The Department also said it had sought to streamline the certification process, focusing on enforcement and working with farmers and processors to correct small issues before they become larger ones.