For certified organic producers and those who are seeking to become organic certified, there is a new final rule coming down the pipeline that will likely affect your operations. Among the changes are new rules regarding animal welfare, living conditions centered on outdoor access for both poultry and mammals, as well as transport and slaughter. As of May 10, 2017, the rule has been postponed to allow for a 30-day period for the public to comment on what action should be taken regarding the new rule. If you would like to comment on the course of action for the new rule, please visit: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/05/10/2017-09410/national-organic-program-nop-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices-second-proposed-rule
If you believe that you may be affected by this new final rule, please take a look at the rule itself. Also, if your certifier has not reached out to you, make sure you contact them to discuss in detail all the proposed changes required for your specific operation. The final rule may be found here: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/19/2017-00888/national-organic-program-nop-organic-livestock-and-poultry-practices. Following is not a comprehensive list of changes, but some key highlights of the new rule.
The first set of major changes has to do with the definitions of certain terms. Notably, any areas that are roofed, but allow the animals to freely move from cover to the outside, may now be counted as ‘outdoor space’. The final rule will now prohibit some types of physical alterations to livestock. Therefore, eight terms have been defined in the rule to account for any local differences in the naming of certain alterations. The definition of stocking density has also been changed to be expressed in terms of pounds of bird per square foot, instead of individual birds per square foot.
Livestock Healthcare practices also see some significant changes as well. Needle teeth clipping and tail docking in pigs may no longer be performed routinely, under the new rule they may only be performed in response to a documented welfare reason, and other alternatives must have failed. For poultry, the new rule prohibits the following practices: de-beaking, de-snooding, caponization, dubbing, toe-clipping of chickens, toe-clipping of turkeys (unless with infra-red at hatchery), and beak clipping after 10 days of age. Forced molting has also been prohibited.