Organic Valley demands best animal welfare practices
LA FARGE - Organic Valley, America's largest cooperative of organic farmers and a pioneer and leader in the organic sector, announced it will protect organic integrity and support due process in the lawsuit filed today by the Organic Trade Association against the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Farmer-owned and independent, Organic Valley was founded in 1988 with the goal of saving family farms through sustainable, organic agriculture. Critical to that mission is upholding the integrity of the USDA Organic seal and the rules governing animal welfare that are crucial to farmers and consumers who choose organic.
"We have cooperated throughout the industry to craft sound regulation. For the administration to now let political pressure derail that progress is an assault on the trust the organic industry has worked so hard to earn," said George Siemon, CEO and a founding farmer of Organic Valley. "Animal welfare matters. Organic should mean the best possible livestock and animal welfare practices. Laying hens want to be outside, on the soil. That's what consumers expect when they buy organic eggs."
"A screened in porch is not outdoor access," said Mike McCarty, Organic Valley egg farmer. "My hens get plenty of room to roam outside and they love to be out there, scratching and pecking and doing what chickens want to do."
The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule is a refinement and clarification of a series of organic animal welfare recommendations incorporated into the Organic Foods Production Act of 2002, which established the federal regulations overseeing the U.S. organic sector.
Siemon was instrumental in developing these standards, and Organic Valley is committed to constantly strengthening the rules. The OLPP is the result of 14 years of public, transparent work within the process established by Congress. It addresses four broad areas of organic livestock and poultry practices: living conditions, animal healthcare, transport, and slaughter.