OFA Celebrates Finalization of OLPS

For years, Organic Farmers Association and others in the organic community have advocated for more clear and stringent standards for organic livestock and poultry production. Today, the new Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) Rule was filed in the Federal Register. OFA applauds the release of this long-awaited rule, which we have advocated for before Congress and the USDA for years.

OLPS clarifies the production standards of avian and mammalian livestock to support consistent enforcement across producers and re-establish a strong organic label that assures consumers that USDA-certified organic livestock products meet a robust and uniform standard valuing both environmental and animal welfare. The rule:

  • Clarifies living conditions, healthcare, transportation, and slaughter practices to support animal welfare for mammalian livestock species.
  • Establishes poultry indoor and outdoor space requirements and stocking density limits, and clarifies that enclosed porches are not considered outdoor spaces.
The Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) Final Rule updates the USDA organic regulations (7 CFR part 205) to promote animal welfare and encourage consistent livestock production practices.

USDA organic standards have always required outdoor access for poultry and livestock as well as living conditions that allow animals to express their natural instincts and the majority of organic livestock farmers uphold these standards. However, these regulations have not been consistently enforced and some certifiers have allowed large poultry companies to use narrow, enclosed porches instead of true outdoor access. This inequitable enforcement and interpretation has created an unfair playing field for organic livestock farmers and has undermined consumers’ confidence in the organic label.

“OFA celebrates the finalization of the OLPS rule,” says Kate Mendenhall, Executive Director, Organic Farmers Association. “These new standards will close loopholes in poultry production, laying important steps towards a more level playing field for organic poultry producers and improving animal welfare. We encourage the USDA to keep working towards high organic integrity. This is a step in that direction and there’s more work to do.”

While celebrating this important step for animal welfare, OFA recognizes that some important details were not included in the final rule. Notably, the rule allows five years for both layer and broiler producers to comply with the new rule, rather than three years as OFA recommended. Additionally, the rule failed to provide clarity around animal welfare standards for organic swine production. OFA will conduct an in-depth analysis of the rule in the coming days.

Find the final rule on the federal register and an OLPS fact sheet on the rule from the USDA.