- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has finalized new Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS).
- The new regulations clarify outdoor access requirements for organic poultry and set standards for living conditions, healthcare, transportation, and slaughter practices.
- Organic Trade Association (OTA) and various organic producers have welcomed the new standards as a significant improvement.
- The rule specifies that screened-in, enclosed porches do not qualify as sufficient outdoor space for organic chickens.
- The new standards have received overwhelming public support, with 89% of nearly 40,000 comments in favor.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has lauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for strengthening organic animal welfare standards. Announced on October 25, 2023, the new Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) regulation aims to create a level playing field for organic producers while ensuring consumers that organic meat, poultry, dairy, and eggs meet higher welfare standards.
The organic sector and consumers have advocated for stricter animal welfare standards for two decades. The USDA’s new OLPS regulation addresses these concerns by setting clear standards for outdoor access for organic poultry, including minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements. It also clarifies living conditions, healthcare, transportation, and slaughter practices for all organic avian and mammalian livestock species.
The New Standards
One of the most significant aspects of the new regulation is the clarification that screened-in, enclosed porches do not qualify as sufficient outdoor space for organic chickens. Organic poultry producers will have up to five years to implement these new regulations.
Organic producers have overwhelmingly supported the USDA’s action. Adam Warthesen, Senior Director of Government and Industry Affairs for Organic Valley, stated that the new standards would ensure chickens go outside and act naturally. Cameron Whitehead, Chief Operating Officer of Pete & Gerry’s Organics, mentioned that the industry had been fighting for this rule for over six years and was pleased to see the USDA validate consumer expectations.
The OLPS rule was open for public comment through November 10, 2022, and received overwhelming support. Analysis showed that out of almost 40,000 posted comments, a significant 89 percent majority favored the regulation being finalized and implemented.
The organic market has grown steadily, with organic egg sales in the U.S. tripling over the last ten years. The new standards are expected to boost consumer trust in organic products further.