AG Derek Schmidt: USDA organic livestock and poultry rule properly withdrawn

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Office of the Kansas Attorney General

TOPEKA – (January 7, 2020) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt last week asked a federal court to find that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has properly withdrawn an Obama-era rule seeking to further regulate the organic livestock and poultry industry.

In a brief filed Friday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Schmidt, along with a bipartisan group of attorneys general of 13 other states, asked the court to find that the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule (OLPP Rule) proposed by the Obama administration in 2016, but which never took effect, was lawfully withdrawn in March 2018. The attorneys general argue that the rule, if it had taken effect, would have unlawfully sought to regulate animal welfare, which was not authorized by Congress when it enacted the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990.

“Rather than implementing the organic standards found in the Act, the OLPP Rule imposed new animal-welfare standards including, for example, detailed and stringent requirements for poultry to have outdoor access to vegetative soil. It did not have authority to do so,” the attorneys general wrote in their brief.

The attorneys general also argue in their brief that if the rule had taken effect, it would have had harmful effects on both the producers and consumers of organic livestock and poultry products. The brief was filed in a lawsuit brought by the Organic Trade Association, which has asked the court to hold that the rule was improperly withdrawn and should proceed with going into effect.

The case is Organic Trade Association v. U.S. Department of Agriculture. A copy of the brief is available at http://bit.ly/36zGscT.