USDA Close to Releasing Proposed Rule for Organic Livestock & Poultry Standards

On December 3, 2021, the Office of Management and Budget’s (OMB) Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) indicated the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services’ Proposed Rule, “Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards” is undergoing EO 12866 Regulatory Review. This is one of the final hurdles an agency’s proposed rule must clear before it is published in the Federal Register.


The initial USDA Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) Final Rule was published on January 19, 2017, the last full day of the Obama Administration. The 2017 OLPP Final Rule, if implemented, would have led to significant changes in animal housing standards for organic livestock and poultry. In particular, the 2017 OLPP Final Rule did not allow for porches to satisfy outdoor space requirements for organic poultry operations; instead, birds would have had to have access to outdoor spaces outside of their barns.


The 2017 OLPP Final Rule’s implementation was delayed multiple times and ultimately withdrawn on May 13, 2018. At the time, USDA determined the rule exceeded USDA’s statutory authority and believed the change to the existing organic regulations could have had a negative effect on voluntary participation in the National Organic Program.


On June 17, 2021, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a press release announcing USDA’s plans to re-visit the 2017 OLPP Final Rule. In his announcement, Secretary Vilsack indicated the National Organic Program will be issuing a proposed regulation that would specifically phase out the use of porches to satisfy outdoor space requirements in poultry operations. He stated the proposed rule will also address the questions of statutory authority raised by Secretary Perdue’s USDA.


We anticipate the OLPP Proposed Rule will be published in the coming weeks. OFW Law’s USDA attorneys will continue to monitor this situation as the Proposed Rule is released. Please reach out if you have any questions.


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