The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) today announced its intentions to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule published in the Federal Register on January 19, 2017, by AMS.  The proposed rule will appear in the Federal Register on Monday, December 18 and will include a 30-day public comment period.

A USDA spokesperson released the following statement, “This proposed rule announces USDA’s intent to withdraw the January 2017 final rule and requests public comment on the proposed withdrawal. USDA has reviewed the OLPP final rule and is initiating this action based on the outcome of that review. Specifically, USDA finds that the OLPP final rule would exceed USDA’s statutory authority. Withdrawal of the OLPP rule is also independently justified based upon USDA’s revised economic assessment of the Rule. If this withdrawal is finalized, the existing organic livestock and poultry regulations now published at 7 CFR part 205 would remain effective.”

The OLPP final rule was originally scheduled to become effective on March 20, 2017.  The “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review” memorandum issued on February 9, 2017 by the Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff delayed the effective day to May 19, 2017.  This was followed by a further delay of the effective date to November 14, 2017 by USDA AMS citing significant policy and legal issues in the final rule.  The Agency additionally published proposed rulemaking requesting public comments on whether USDA should implement, suspend, delay, or withdraw the OLPP final rule.  The National Chicken Council submitted comments in favor of suspending the final rule indefinitely pending a thorough review of the economic costs and biosecurity risks associated with the final rule.

“NCC supports choice in the market place where the demand for organic chicken continues to grow,” said NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, Ashley Peterson, Ph.D.  “But we have several concerns about this rule that we have communicated to AMS, including increased biosecurity risks with the expanded outdoor access requirement, increased costs and the potential for market exclusion for poultry producers due to the requirements.  Most importantly, our concern is for the welfare of the birds, and this rule as proposed would have increased on-farm mortality, according to AMS.”