Organic Farmers Association Urges Implementation of Animal Welfare Rules

The Organic Farmers Association calls on the USDA to implement the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule (OLPP) without delay. The OLPP or “animal welfare” rule would allow the National Organic Program to consistently enforce stronger animal welfare standards on organic farms and remove loopholes being taken advantage of by some large operations.

The USDA previously delayed implementation of the rule until November 14, 2017 after holding an additional public comment period in June 2017 questioning whether the rule should even be implemented. Last week, the USDA announced they would wait until May 14, 2018 to implement the rule.

“This is the fourth time this year they have delayed implementation and organic farmers cannot wait,” said Kate Mendenhall, Director of Organic Farmers Association. “Certified organic farmers strongly support this rule—100% of the certified organic farmers who responded to our fall policy poll support immediate implementation of the rule. To delay again is a disservice to organic farmers.”

The OLPP has been an ongoing discussion within the organic community for the past ten years and included two public comment periods before being finalized. The rule was well vetted and is ready for implementation.

“The final ruling is needed and is supported by organic farmers nationwide,” said Jim Riddle, organic farmer and chair of the Organic Farmers Association steering committee. “It is time for the USDA to implement it to preserve the integrity of the organic seal”.


Organic Farmers Association Announces Policy Priorities

The Organic Farmers Association recently announced their 2017-2018 Policy Priorities, including policy positions on hot organic issues such as hydroponics, animal welfare, organic checkoff and the farm bill.

Last week, the Organic Farmers Association Steering Committee voted to approve the organization’s first policy positions, established as “urgent policy positions,” because they occurred outside their annual policy development process. Policy Committee members reviewed and approved submitting the positions to the OFA certified organic farm membership for a vote and comment. With high farmer support for all the proposed policies the Steering Committee voted to approve their use.

The policies are timely as the National Organic Standards Board meeting begins today, Tuesday, October 31 in Jacksonville, Florida and a highly contentious topic regarding whether hydroponic production will be allowed under the organic standards will be discussed. OFA farm members voted to follow the recommendations of the NOSB Crops Subcommittee and not allow hydroponics under the organic label.

Dave Chapman, OFA Policy Committee member says, “having Organic Farmers Association certified organic farmers vote to oppose organic hydroponics speaks volumes. We have seen a growing outcry from farmers over this issue for the past few years and farmers are adamant that healthy soil is the foundation of the organic label. We must keep the soil in organic.”

Other OFA policies address issues such as the organic checkoff, where 77% of OFA certified organic farmer members voted to oppose the proposed Organic Research and Promotion Program (ORPP) that would mandate organic farmers and handlers to pay an assessment on organic net sales each year. The membership also voted to urge the USDA to implement the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule (OLPP) without further delay, scheduled to go into effect November 14.

“We urge the USDA to act on behalf of America’s sustainable family farmers and listen to their needs by implementing the organic animal welfare act and discontinuing the organic checkoff proposal,” says Jim Riddle, OFA Steering Committee Chair and Minnesota organic farmer.

As the House and Senate Agriculture committees work to draft the 2018 farm bill, OFA now has its farm bill priorities clearly outlined and directed by their farm membership.

Michael Adsit, an organic farmer in Michigan and member of both the OFA Steering and Policy Committees commented, “as a member of OFA leadership, I am pleased we now have formal policy directive from organic farmers across the country that detail the USDA programs farmers need to be successful now and in the future. The future of agriculture is organic, and we must have a farm bill that helps fulfill this growing market demand with US supply.”

To view the full Organic Farmers Association Policy Priorities, visit OrganicFarmersAssociation.org/Policy-Position.

Organic Farmers Association will continue to engage their members in policy development and plan to begin their annual policy development process in the next few months. These policy positions will be ratified by the certified organic farm members before becoming permanent pieces of OFA policy platform.