The USDA is proposing new regulations to clarify how livestock and poultry can be treated if products derived from them are to be called organic.
The proposed rule would deal with livestock health care practices, living conditions, slaughter and transport. The USDA is scheduled to hold a virtual listening session on the rules on Aug. 19, with the deadline to register for comments Aug. 15.
The proposed rule spells out certain practices to be followed or prohibited, including: no castration for birds, no beak-trimming after 10 weeks of age, no tail docking or face branding of cattle, feeding areas big enough so that animals don’t have to compete for food, year-around outdoor space with vegetative cover for soil, pasture for ruminant stock, and more.
The rule is being promulgated in response to complaints about lack of clarity in regulations around organic livestock. Some have complained that certain operations, especially large ones, are gaming the system through means like saying that a tiny enclosed porch attached to a chicken coop constitutes “outdoor access.”