Trump’s agriculture team threatens to kill first-ever federal animal welfare standards for farm animals

By on May 11, 2017 with 26 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

First, on January 23rd, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) froze an anti-horse-soring rule, years in the works and with massive bipartisan support in Congress.

Then, just days later, the agency, without warning, took down thousands of Animal Welfare Act inspection reports and Horse Protection Act violations from a searchable website.

Third, the USDA placed more than a three-month delay on the implementation of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, 87 Fed. Reg. 7042, which builds strong animal welfare standards into the definition of organic.

And fourth, in the run-up to the revised start date for the new organics program this month, the USDA imposed an additional six-month delay. Now in tandem with that announcement, the USDA is reopening public comment on the rule, and it’s asking people if they want to modify the rule or scrap it entirely. No matter that 98 percent of the comments and signed petitions that came into the USDA, which extended the original comment period, favored the rule.

Tell the USDA to implement the organics rule »

Let’s be clear. This latest action is a supremely hostile action by big agriculture against the organic market, family farmers, and consumers, as well as the millions of animals who will endure less livable conditions because of this maneuvering.

Big agriculture doesn’t like the comparison between its production practices (which have no legally required federal animal welfare standards) and the finalized organic standards (which are the first federal animal welfare standards in the law). The final rule creates new standards for raising organic livestock, such as limiting tail docking and beak clipping; would require animals to have year-around access to the outdoors; and would stipulate that the indoor space is sufficiently large to allow the animals to stand up and stretch their limbs. Non-ambulatory animals, such as those with broken limbs or those too sick to move, must be medically treated, even if doing so would remove their “organic” status. Animals must also be able to walk on their own before they are transported to buyers, auction houses, or slaughterhouses.

Not only did The HSUS, Egg Innovations, Organic Valley, and the Organic Trade Association favor the rule, but even one of the nation’s biggest and best known chicken producers, Perdue Farms, backed it.

These are common sense standards that should be customary and standard on farms. It’s kind of remarkable that allowing animals to be able to stand up and stretch their limbs requires a special label in the first place.

Conventional producers are fond of saying that people vote with their pocketbooks, and that animal advocates may talk a good game about giving animals more space and outdoor access, but in the marketplace, consumers default to lower price points rather than higher ethical standards. But if their efforts to subvert this rule tell us anything, they scream out loud that they are afraid of the mass movement of consumers toward organic. Organic is the fastest growing product line in the grocery business, and consumers are clearing the shelves of products designated with the label. But they are also asking that the label mean something, and that the weak standards put in place in 2000 (a full decade after the 1990 passage of the Organic Foods Production Act) are fortified so that there is authenticity behind the organic brand.

If Big Ag is right and consumers don’t want more organic products with these fortified and meaningful animal welfare standards, then these products will stay on the shelf. But obviously, they are trying to scuttle the final rule because they know they are wrong.

What’s really at work here is, they just don’t want skilled and caring and attentive farmers to succeed in the marketplace. And they don’t want better treatment of farm animals to be codified into law.

Look at their history.

The pork industry has seen more than 90 percent of producers go out of business in the last 40 years, the dairy industry 88 percent, and the egg industry more than 95 percent. Their adoption of industrial-style production methods, combined with the anti-competitive practices that they promoted, drove farmers out of business and hurt rural communities as much as any other factor.

The new organic standard, which was 14 years in the works and held up multiple times by conventional agriculture, is throwing a lifeline to family farmers. These farmers, with a real brand behind them, can demonstrate to their customers that they are honoring good husbandry practices on the farm and offer value-added, ethically sourced products. Consumers will pay a premium because the animals are treated well, not fed antibiotics or hormones, and not chewing on feed crops sprayed with pesticides. That will keep these farmers in business. Thousands of farmers throughout the nation support this plan and supported the rule promulgated by the USDA under the leadership of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Make no mistake, the attack on this rule is an attack on family farmers throughout the nation. It is an attempt to gut federal animal welfare standards in agriculture. And it is an attack on consumer choice and the integrity of the organic label.

You’ve already told the USDA to embrace an authentic organic standard. Now we must tell the new leaders at the USDA the same thing.

Farm Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. A patriotic AMERICAN says:

    How about we stand behind our president as a nation instead of constantly complaining and making up stories because you didnt get what you want? I guess you all just wanted Obama to rule the world for all of eternity?? If this kind of backlash was towards Obama there would be a war. This is ridiculous. If you dont like America, GET THE HELL OUT!!!

    • Georgina says:

      I’m a patriotic American and president Trump owes a steak house he explode animals to increase his income open your eyes go to a slaughterhouse ! God put animals on earth to live not to be a plate in Donald trump steakhouse in NYC to satisfy greedy selfish people only think in their stomachs animals belongs in our hearts the holocaust must stop I’m the voice of the animals ! Direct action every where

    • Pat says:

      Why all the anger “Patriotic American”? I guess free speech and having a black president aren’t allowed in your kind of America. Now you will either respnd by calling me all kinds of names or you won’t respond at all because you can’t think of anything intelligent to say.

      • Linda Bryson says:

        Very well said!! Once again Trump voters make it about themselves! This isn’t political it is about being humane to our animals

    • Kerry kirkpatrick says:

      You are not a patriotic American. It is not an Obama- Trump issue. It’s a call to humanely treat the animals we are charged with keeping and killing.

    • Geoff says:

      If you are such a proud, patriotic American, why are you afraid to publish your name? Another loud-mouth, know-nothing coward.

    • Cathy says:

      This act is not American. This is shameful and should scare all Americans. It will not end with the animals be mindful of that.

    • Sarah Lyndon says:

      Are you saying that people who want animals treated without cruelty are not as patriotic as you?

    • Tracy Buckley says:

      So way off!!
      It’s not what “I” want, It’s about protecting the animals!!!! It’s what they deserve. They have souls, emotions, and intelligence. They feel physical and emotional pain.
      They are not just walking food.

    • Denni A says:

      YOUR PRESIDENT is a RUSSIAN MASCOT who answers to Putin and divulges classified INTEL information jeopardizing our Military and the security of this country, YOU ARE NO PATRIOT. pack up and MOVE TO RUSSIA and take the ORANGE FREAK with you.

    • Didn't Vote For The Clown says:

      The current POTUS is under investigation by the FBI for colluding with a nation that we consider an enemy.

      In addition, he is undermining all protection involved with animal welfare. This is simply about protecting animals and having them treated humanely. Do you have a problem with that? Protecting our farm animals (food animals) not only is humane to them but also ensures our health as consumers of those animals. No wonder you support the insane clown, you obviously don’t even understand why it is important to protect the way in which farm animals are raised. Figures.

    • Glynnis McPhee says:

      Your comment makes no sense. How about we consistently stand up for a healthy food supply and common sense animal welfare standards that will ensure public safety? This wouldn’t be an issue if Trump’s pick to run this agency – and therefore Trump himself – weren’t trying to undermine what is already approved. Sheesh.

  2. Monica Barricarte says:

    Impeach Trump and protect animals

  3. Ida Pullen says:

    This Trump government has absolutely no regard for animals! His sons’ trophy hunting proves their family’s total disregard for animals.
    This is just another instance to prove that.
    Farm animals need all the help and protection they can get — they are abused and treated without any respect or regard for the fact that they are living, feeling beings!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Ida Pullen. I buy from farmers that let their chickens,and livestock walk in the fields before sent to the slaughter house to be tortured and abused before killing. My dad said it ruins the meat to be not slaughtered quickly. If you eat meat be humane if you don’t eat animal products good for you.

    • Georgina says:

      Complete agree with you
      An American im a vegan
      Trump owns steak houses he explodes animals and increases his money using exploding cows porks lambs they deserve to live
      I’m the voice of the animals
      Animals want to be alive ! The holocaust must end

  4. Georgina says:

    Go vegan
    Stop using animals
    Stop thinking we are superior than animals we are not

  5. Iamvirg says:

    Shouldn’t a patriotic American also have heart? Compassion?

  6. Alli says:

    Its not “new” if Obama proposed something similar back in April 2016. And Organic shouldn’t mean the bare minimum of naturally raised, which is what the majority of commercial (& even family farms) do. There’s nothing wrong with limiting the tail docking of dairy cattle (which are currently the ones that lose the majority of their tails). Pig tail docking is pretty much more of a necessity than docking of a dairy cow (though who wants to get whacked in the face by a poop covered tail while doing their job?) pigs will eat other pig’s tails, especially if they are in a confined space. They do it out of boredom, nutrients issues & fighting among a few. There’s absolutely NOTHING wrong with having sufficient space for chickens, turkey’s, cows, pigs, etc. to be able to get up & move around. Fresh air, fresh green grass, etc. Helps to create healthier environments, animals & can help with the profit margin. And raising cattle, sheep, pigs, etc out on grass pasture should cut down the cost of feeding them & shouldn’t cost a consumer more at the store for it. But then again….there’s not many left who know how to properly do grazing maintenance on land anymore.
    I support the change. I support our animals getting a chance to get out & move & breath healthy fresh air to roll around the ground or dust themselves (chickens). If people are against the commercial farmer taking better care of their livestock…..then your nuts.
    Soring of horses should be banned & outlawed without question or hesitation.

  7. Mary C says:

    I sent in a FOIA request to USDA as did many other organizations. We all the same black 1,777 page document when we made different requests. It was just a big FU to everyone. Before Trump USDA would reply to requests properly and legally. I know Team Trump forced the USDA to do this.

  8. Narina kook says:

    This is disappointing ,all the farm business barely can make it and now another smack on the face 🙁
    What is gonna left ….?

  9. Kathy Stutler says:

    I am for most all of Trump’s policy’s and did vote for him but when it comes to animals he is totally out of touch. I don’t know what its going to take but he has to get it together when it comes to the animals. He claims to be Christian now and so do most of the Washington double tongues. America greed is ruling our country. This is not how we should be treating other living beings.

    • Denni A says:

      his two sons kill endangered species for sport, what did you expect???…this information was WELL KNOWN before Nov 8th 2016.

  10. Liz says:

    And fourth, in the run-up to the revised start date for the new organics program this month, the USDA imposed an additional six-month delay. Now in tandem with that announcement, the USDA is reopening public comment on the rule, and it’s asking people if they want to modify the rule or scrap it entirely. No matter that 98 percent of the comments and signed petitions that came into the USDA, which extended the original comment period, favored the rule.

    Hopefully the new results will come back consistent with past feedback on the policy. Trump is focused on reviewing regulations across the federal government, in all agencies and departments, this isn’t anything specific to animals or agriculture.

  11. Tricia Hamilton says:

    trump is a moron, why are we going backwards instead of forward?
    horrible people in the whitehouse.

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