Whether it’s promoting meat trade with China, withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, or selecting Brian Klippenstein—a man who runs an anti-animal-protection lobbying organization—to lead the USDA transition, corporate interests are clearly more important to President Trump and his administration than animal suffering. But this week we reached a new low. Last night, the USDA officially removed Obama-era rules protecting animals at organic farms.
While the exploitation and slaughter of animals at organic farms is still unnecessary and inhumane, these regulations created great improvements for farmed animals, especially birds, who have few legal protections. Additionally, the regulations prohibited mutilations, such as cutting off horns, toes, and beaks, and set minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements, providing at least some access to outdoor vegetation. They also required medical treatment for animals too injured to walk and set at least some limit to how tightly animals could be packed together at farms.
The elimination of the organics rule means that the 22 million animals in the organic food industry will continue to suffer the cruelest (but standard) industry practices. Furthermore, it betrays the vast majority of organic consumers, 86 percent of whom believe that animal products labeled organic should comply with welfare standards higher than those of conventional products.
If you’re wondering why the Trump administration reversed such a reasonable rule, you need only follow the money. This reversal was primarily driven by the large, powerful corporations selling “faux-ganic” meat and other animal products. The USDA has a horrible track record of regulating the meaning of “organic,” leading to rampant fraud. Without this rule, faux-ganic brands can continue to charge higher prices for an organic label without actually having to adopt meaningful welfare practices.
Last year Mercy For Animals submitted formal comments to the USDA and urged people to voice their opposition. Sadly, the Trump administration ignored the public’s outcry and listened solely to the cruel and greedy industry.
While eliminating this rule is a heartless move by this turbulent administration, it’s important to remember that organic animal farming is anything but humane. The best thing we can all do to protect animals is to leave them off our plates altogether and end the abuse of animals for food once and for all.