Yesterday, the United States Department of Agriculture took the first step to rectify a decision made during the previous administration which negatively impacted farm animal welfare standards.
In January 2017, the USDA issued a sweeping rule that would have strengthened standards for animal welfare on organic farms. The rule included an array of housing, husbandry and management standards—such as prohibiting cutting the tails off cattle and setting minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for egg-laying chickens.
Unfortunately, under the Trump administration, the agency decided to ignore overwhelming public and organic industry support and withdrew the rule on March 13, 2018. Since then, the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund have been fighting the agency over this decision, bringing a federal lawsuit challenging the withdrawal and pressuring the agency to reconsider.
Yesterday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA will reconsider the previous administration’s position on the rule, and that the agency will begin a rulemaking to address animal welfare standards.
“In our view this rule was one of the most important rules to establish better living conditions for farm animals to ever come out of a federal agency, and we’re so pleased that the Biden administration is rectifying the Trump administration’s catastrophic error when they withdrew the rule,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.
“Secretary Vilsack has made public statements on his support for animal welfare, and we’re happy to see him backing those statements up with concrete actions. We look forward to working with the USDA to ensure that the proposed rule includes significant improvements for animal welfare,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.