The Obama administration enacted new humane-handling rules for organic livestock and poultry producers on its last day in office, Jan 19.
The rules have been in the works since summer, and the last-minute enactment drew criticism from the National Pork Producers Council which also said some of the rules have no basis in science.
On the other hand, animal welfare groups are pleased.
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) “commends” the move, calling it an “historic move” and “the first comprehensive set of regulations governing the on-farm treatment of animals ever issued by the federal government.”
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) called the rule a “game-changer for the $40-billion organic market whose consumers often believe that organic farm animals are raised with strong animal welfare standards.”
The National Pork Producers Council, however, called it “another ‘midnight’ regulation” and a “poke in the eye to agriculture.”
Some of the requirements, such as outdoor access, could even put some livestock at risk for contracting certain diseases, the pork council said, also without citing any scientific reports.
USDA is accepting public comments on the rule until Feb. 21, but it went into effect as soon as it was published.