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USDA to Undo Its Trump-Era Withdrawal of Organic Livestock Rule

March 7th, 2022
Court Sends Withdrawal Rule Back to Agency
Center for Food Safety

SAN FRANCISCO—Today, the U.S. Court of the Northern District of California allowed the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reconsider its Trump-era withdrawal of animal welfare standards on farms producing organic meat and eggs. The court ordered USDA to send a status update within six months, stating that because USDA now recognizes the major errors in the withdrawal and pledges to redo the Organic Livestock Rule within a matter of months, it was not necessary to reach the merits of Center for Food Safety's (CFS) challenge to the withdrawal.  

In January 2017, the Obama USDA published the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practice rule to improve animal welfare standards on farms producing organic meat, particularly requiring more space and outdoor access for egg-laying hens and chickens. Despite overwhelming support for the standards by the organic community, the Trump USDA withdrew the rule in 2018. In response, CFS filed a lawsuit challenging the withdrawal of the rule. 

A statement from Amy van Saun, senior attorney at Center for Food Safety: 

"USDA now admits that its dangerous withdrawal rule misinterpreted its organic authority and that it made other grave errors when withdrawing the Organic Livestock Rule. As the court noted, the organic farmers and eaters that brought this lawsuit would likely have succeeded on our claims. Now we will focus on watchdogging USDA to ensure that its new rule is as good or better than the original Organic Livestock Rule." 

USDA has already sent a proposed rule to the Office of Budget and Management and CFS and its co-Plaintiffs are ready to ensure that this new rule captures the recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board and the needs of the organic community.  

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