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I understand an amendment may be considered during the floor debate on the Agriculture Appropriations bill that would impede the National Organic Program (NOP) in finalizing and implementing its proposed rule on organic poultry and livestock practices (also known as organic animal welfare standards). I strongly oppose any such amendment, and urge you to oppose it as well.
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| Congress must not hamstring the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Organic Program (NOP) from doing its job – writing, implementing, and enforcing organic rules. Passing such an amendment would set a very dangerous precedent for organic.|
| If Congress blocks USDA from following the transparent and congressionally mandated process to create and implement organic regulations set forth in the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, itwould call into question the entire process by which organic standards deliver transparent meaning to the consumer – a process that Congress created, the industry has worked within, and consumers trust.|
| This particular proposed rule, which was published in April, is the result of 14 years of public and transparent work within the process set up by Congress – a process that included 2 National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommendations (the most recent one, in 2011, a unanimous recommendation that NOP draft organic livestock and poultry practices regulations), 6 NOSB meetings with full public comment, over a 3-year period, and a preliminary economic analysis in advance of rulemaking published in the Federal Register in 2013.|
| The proposed rule has taken biosecurity concerns into account, and includes provisions that ensure that organic poultry operations will not be putting their flocks at a greater risk for exposure or infection by complying with the proposed regulations. In particular, organic regulations allow for temporary confinement of poultry indoors in cases of “conditions under which the health, safety, or well-being of the animal could be jeopardized,” which includes times when disease outbreaks are occurring or when the potential for exposure to wild birds is high.|
| The proposed rule creates livestock and poultry practice standards for organic products that consumers demand, and that are necessary for organic to maintain its premium position in the marketplace.|
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Please oppose amendments that would prohibit the use of any funds made available in the bill to implement the proposed rule on animal welfare for organic operations.