USDA Issues Major Animal Welfare Standards for Organic Farms

Compassion over Killing ( posted this recent article:


In its last major move under the Obama administration, last week the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has introduced comprehensive new animal welfare standards governing organic farms.

The sweeping changes are important not only for improving the required standards of care for animals, but also for ensuring that consumers are getting more accurate information about the organic products they’re buying. Time and time again, COK investigations have revealed horrific cruelty on factory farms. Even when it comes to organic foods, there have been no guarantees that animals experienced better treatment — despite the fact that consumers believe stronger welfare standards are in place when they see “organic” labeling.

To be implemented in stages over the next one to five years, these rules are set to improve the lives of millions of pigs, cows, chickens and other animals. As stated on the USDA’s website, this rule, which applies when the “USDA Organic” seal is marketed on products:

  • establishes minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for organic chickens
  • more notably, for outdoor spaces, it clarifies that it must include soil and vegetation
  • adds humane handling requirements
  • and clarifies humane slaughter requirements.

Specifically, animals must be given enough space to lie down, turn around, stand up and stretch their limbs. The guideline will also prohibit the tail-docking of cattle; the transportation of sick, injured, or lame animals; and the beak-cutting of chickens. It will also set minimum space requirements for egg-laying hens, and require that animals are provided adequate outdoor access.

Though there will be many challenges and uncertainties for animals ahead, as a new administration takes over, this news from the USDA is an encouraging step in the right direction for farmed animals who are suffering day in and day out.


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