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KBIA's Harvest Desk covers food and agriculture issues in Missouri and beyond. The desk is a collaboration between KBIA and Harvest Public Media, a reporting collaboration focused on issues of food, fuel and field. The desk is headed by reporter Kristofor Husted.

Organic Animal Welfare Rules Delayed, Giving Opponents Hope

Grant Gerlock
Harvest Public Media


Is organic meat more humane than conventionally raised meat?

Rules that would create animal welfare standards for livestock certified as organic have been delayed, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday, giving opponents new hope that they will be quashed.

The standards were in the works for years, but not released until the final full day of President Barack Obama’s term. Now, implementation of the rules has been pushed back thanks to President Donald Trump’s “regulatory freeze.” Originally slated to take effect March 20, they are now scheduled to be implemented May 19.

As our Grant Gerlock reported in September, many organic producers have endorsed the rules, which would allow them to market organic meat as being more humane. Conventional farm organizations, however, charge that folding humane standards into the federally run organic program would amount to unfair government backing of the organic industry.

The Organic Trade Association is maintaining steadfast support for the rules.

“We urge the USDA to avoid further delays and to allow this new effective date to stand as published,” it said in a post on its website.

Many of the largest livestock groups are still fighting, however. When the rules were initially published in January, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association said the “Obama Administration has bowed to the whims and demands of animal activists rather than talking to the industry as a whole to see what is best for the program and for consumers.”

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