The Trump administration is plowing ahead with its single-minded goal of overturning every Obama-era regulation it can find, this time determining that “USDA Organic” animals are not entitled to a higher quality of life than their factory farm counterparts.
A new rule created at the end of Obama’s term would apply to the fate of organically-raised chickens, mandating that the animals must have at least a square foot of space as well as access to the outdoors. As it stands, large-scale egg producers need only to build chicken houses that allow hens to walk around a small, enclosed “porch” for a limited amount of time per day. The rule, put forth in January, established that the porches would no longer be adequate.
Now, the USDA under Trump is again delaying the implementation of that rule, arguing that it could discourage new organic farming practices from developing by being overly restrictive with farmers. In a statement to the Washington Post, officials said the proposed rule “may hamper market-driven innovation and evolution and impose unnecessary regulatory burdens.”
But consumers spend more money on organic products on the belief that animals are more humanely raised. Advocates blame large-scale factory farms for taking advantage of the “USDA Organic” label as a means of charging higher prices without necessarily raising their standards
The decision “is going to be destructive to the whole organic field,” Jesse Laflamme, co-owner and chief executive at Pete and Gerry’s Organics, told the Post. “What’s so upsetting is that there is such a gap between what organic consumers expect and what these factory farms are producing.”