center for food safety comments to nop - organic livestock and poultry practices 7.13.2016 2019. 2

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    NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS 660 Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, Suite 302

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    July  13,  2016     Mr.  Paul  Lewis,  Ph.D.   Director  Standards  Division   National  Organic  Program   USDA-­‐AMS-­‐NOP   Room  2646-­‐So.,  Ag  Stop  0268   1400  Independence  Ave,  SW   Washington,  D.C.  20250-­‐0268       Re:  Docket  No.  AMS-­‐NOP-­‐15-­‐0012;  NOP-­‐15-­‐06PR;  RIN  0581-­‐AD44       Dear  Mr.  Lewis,     Center  for  Food  Safety  (CFS)  is  a  non-­‐profit  membership  organization  that  works  to  protect   human  health  and  the  environment  by  curbing  the  proliferation  of  harmful  food  production   technologies  and  by  promoting  organic  and  sustainable  agriculture.    Our  membership  has   rapidly   grown   to   include   over   seven   hundred   thousand   people   across   the   country   that   support   organic   food   and   farming,   grow   organic   food,   and   regularly   purchase   organic   products.     The   proposed   Organic   Livestock   and   Poultry   Practices   rule   is   an   important   step   toward   aligning  all  organic  production  systems  with  the  high  bar  of  organic  integrity  and  consumer   expectations   of   the   organic   label.   It   is   the   next   step   in   what   has   been   a   decades-­‐long   process   of   developing   strong,   uniform   standards   for   raising   animals   organically.   Throughout   that   process,   Center   for   Food   Safety   has   provided   extensive   input   via   the   public   comment   process1  as   well   as   additional   publications2  and   engagement.   As   the   Federal   Register   notice   acknowledges,   the   intent   of   the   rulemaking   is   to   “better   satisfy   consumer  expectations  that  organic  livestock  meet  a  uniform  and  verifiable  animal  welfare  

                                                                                                                    1  CFS  submitted  written  comments  and  letters  related  to  animal  welfare  in  organic  to  the  National  Organic   Standards  Board  in  May  2012,  April  2011,  November  2009,  December  2008,  September  2006,  June  2006.   2  P.M.  Tomaselli  &  L.J.  Bunin  (2014).  USDA  Stalls  Regulations  to  Improve  Organic  Poultry  Living  Conditions,   Washington,  DC:  Center  for  Food  Safety,  available  at  www.centerforfoodsafety.org/files/animal-­‐welfare-­‐ final_56276.pdf.    

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    standard.”3  Organic   is   the   gold   standard,   and   as   such,   organic   animals  must   be  well   fed,   healthy,  have  access  to  the  outdoors,  and  be  raised  in  an  environment  that  allows  them  to   engage  in  their  natural  behaviors.     Consumers  feel  that  organic  foods  have  value  over  conventional  due  to  a  strong  belief  that   they  have  been  produced  in  a  manner  that  conserves  natural  resources,  protects  the  native   environment,  does  not  rely  on  synthetic  chemicals,  and  provides  for  the  welfare  of  animals   raised  for  food.  To  support  such  production  systems,  consumers  accept  a  price  premium  to   purchase  foods  that  align  with  their  values.  In  2013,  CFS  conducted  a  survey  of  U.S.  organic   consumers  to  determine  what  factors  influence  their  decision  to  purchase  organic  poultry   products.   Of   the   17,396   participants   who   purchase   organic   eggs,   more   than   70   percent   listed  the  provision  of  humane  and  natural  conditions  as  among  the  top  five  reasons  they   choose   organic   eggs.4  When   a   few  producers   take   advantage   of   lax   or   unclear   standards,   consumer  confidence  in  all  organic  producers  and  products  is  undermined.  In  the  spirit  of   continuous   improvement   on  which   the   U.S.   federal   organic   law  was   founded,   the   aim   of   NOSB  and  NOP  must  always  be  to  ensure  that  the  standards  are  increasingly  stringent  and   that  all  certified  organic  producers  are  held  to  a  high  bar  of  integrity.         The  proposed  rule  recommends  many  changes  to  the  current  regulations  for  livestock  and   poultry   that  will   significantly   improve   the  wellbeing  of  organic  animals  and  bring  animal   production  systems  in  line  with  consumer  demands,  including:     Livestock  Health  Care  Practices     Amended  language  related  to  the  prohibition  of  hormones  is  a  welcome  addition   An  integral  component  of  organic  animal  production  systems  is   the  prohibition  of  animal   drugs  used  to  enhance  productivity.  As  such,  CFS  appreciates  the  language  in  the  proposed   rule   that   provides   further   clarification   on   the   prohibition   of   exogenous   hormones.   At   §205.238(c)(3),   the   rule   prohibits   the   use   of   synthetic   or   nonsynthetic   hormones   for   production  or  reproductive  purposes,  in  addition  to  the  existing  language  prohibiting  their   use   for   promoting   growth.5  As   hormone   drugs   are   approved   by   FDA   for   uses   other   than   growth  promotion,  the  new  language  ensures  that  the  regulatory  prohibition  of  their  use  in   organic   is   sufficiently   comprehensive.   Consumers   do   not   expect   animals   that   are   raised  

                                                                                                                    3  81  Fed.  Reg.  71.  21956,  22009  (Wednesday,  April  13,  2016),  at  21956.   4  Center  for  Food  Safety  (2013).  Survey  on  Organic  Eggs  &  Poultry,  Online  survey  conducted  in  September.   Survey  participants  comprise  a  group  of  self-­‐selected  Center  for  Food  Safety  supporters  who  volunteered  to   take  the  survey,  and  they  were  not  randomly  selected.   5  81  Fed.  Reg.  71,  supra  note  3,  at  21965.  

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    organically  to  be  dosed  with  drugs  for  any  non-­‐therapeutic  purposes,  which  would  include   the  regulation  of  an  animal’s  reproductive  cycle.       Avian  Living  Conditions     Requirements   for   poultry   operations   have   been   significantly   improved   in   the   proposed  rule   CFS   has   consistently   argued   that   strong   welfare   rules   for   poultry   will   not   only   provide   outdoor   space   to   birds,   but   ensure   that   the   housing   and   outd

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