USDA has extended the public comment period for the proposed changes to the organic livestock and poultry production standards by 30 days to July 13, 2016.
“We are pleased the USDA acted immediately to allow producers, consumers, retailers and animal health experts more time to offer their comments on the proposed rules,” said Congressional ag leaders. “We will continue to work with the department to address the concerns being raised by our constituents."
U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committee leaders Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kansas, Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan, and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minnesota, sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on May 26 requesting a 90-day comment period extension and expressing concerns with the proposed rule.
“Our constituents have expressed significant concern regarding possible unintended consequences, including reduced access to organic products, substantially increased organic food costs for consumers, significant disruption to the organic feed and processed organic products industries, increased exposure to disease and mortality for organic poultry, increased risk of contamination or food-borne illness, and significant barriers for current organic producers to maintain organic certification,” the letter read.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service released the proposed changes April 13. The changes include:
- Clarifying how producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their health and well-being throughout life, including transport and slaughter.
-Specifying which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production.
-Establishing minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry.
USDA estimates the production cost from the changes is $9.5 million to $24.1 million per year, annualized over 13 years, and the paperwork burden cost is $3.6 million per year.
In addition to the Congressional agricultural leaders, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture also requested an extension to the comment period.
Related: Organic livestock standards proposed
Comments can be submitted here.
Source: Senate Agriculture Committee