The Massachusetts chapter of the Northeast Organic Farming Association. NOFA/Mass welcomes everyone who cares about food, where it comes from and how it’s grown

Growing Organically Since 1982

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Protect The New Organic Animal Welfare Rules

Last year, the Obama administration gave the green light to a set of new organic rules that would go a long way towards improving animal welfare standards. Even though all of the major organic organizations- including National Organic Coalition and Organic Trade Association- support these new rules, they are now under threat because of some big organic producers. As a recent Washington Post investigation found, organic livestock are not always as organic as you think. These rules would change that.
 Right now, the USDA is deciding whether to a) leave the rules as is b) amend them or c) repeal them altogether. 


Send USDA a clear message: the animal welfare rule should become effective November 14.

Here's how you can help: 

1) Click here and then hit the button that says "Comment Now!"

2) Use the talking points below or share your own thoughts as to why the USDA should let the animal welfare rule take effect in November.
The deadline for comments is June 9! Please act now!

Talking Points:

  • People who choose to buy organic eggs, poultry, and meat expect organic farmers to raise their animals in healthy conditions – to provide access to the outdoors, space to move around, and express their natural behaviors. The new standards make sure those expectations are met.
  • The organic community has spent ten years working to improve animal welfare standards in organic. These new regulations include input from organic farmers, the public, researchers and the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).   
  • Organic livestock and poultry farmers that adhere to high standards are being undercut because of loopholes that allow a small number of producers to deny meaningful outdoor access to animals. The release of these new standards will level the playing field. 
  • These standards are critical to preserving trust in the organic label. If the standards for poultry and livestock products are not consistent, confidence in the organic label overall will be impacted.  
  • The majority of organic livestock farmers already comply with these rules. 
  • Because the NOSB and organic community have consistently called for meaningful outdoor access for poultry dating back to 1998, it is untruthful for poultry operations that do not meet these requirements to claim that they have been taken by surprise. Operations that do not currently meet the standards will have - up to five years - to comply with the new standards. 
  • Scientific studies indicate that indoor confinement is a risk factor for spreading disease which also supports the benefits of outdoor access within the existing USDA and FDA health and safety framework.  
  • Contrary to concerns that hens are more vulnerable to predation with outdoor access, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) found that mortality rates are similar for organic and non-organic egg operations. Most organic producers already provide outdoor access and use a variety of practices to protect birds from predators such as overhead netting and electric fencing. The proposed rule is based on substantial public input, including from producers, on practices that improve the overall quality of life for birds 


Tell Us Your Policy Priorities

Our Policy team is here to represent you, the farmers, gardeners, and organic advocates of Massachusetts. If there is an issue that you want our policy team to investigate or advocate for, please let us know by filling out this form.



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