No room to move

Well at least Trump and his friends showed those chickens a thing or two.

The Trump administration officially withdrew an Obama-era rule that would set higher standards for the treatment of animals whose meat can be sold as organic.

The rule, created under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), would require poultry to be housed in spaces large enough to move freely and fully stretch their wings. Livestock would be required to have some access to outdoor space year-round.

The USDA officially overturned the rule Monday, after delaying its implementation three times. It was first created in 2016 and built on seven years of deliberation.

So I guess it’s not like all those reports about what Pruitt was doing when really he was just starting the process of trying to do them and might fail. I guess “officially overturned the rule” means what it says.

Many hens and cows live in the same or similar conditions as their nonorganic counterparts, with no room to move and only screened-in porches for “outside” access. The USDA estimates that about half of all organic eggs come from hens living in total confinement.

“Organic” of course doesn’t mean “humanely raised,” but people tend to conflate the two.

The rule was poised to hurt large-scale organic egg farms that house up to 180,000 birds in one barn, said the Organic Trade Association (OTA), which represents organic farmers. Some of these farms house as many as three egg-laying hens per square foot, with no time spent outdoors.

In contrast, Organic Valley, one of the most popular medium-scale organic producers in the United States, provides each bird with 5 square feet of space. In Europe, birds are given 43 square feet.

43 square feet versus a third of a square foot – quite a difference.

The proposed rule drew 47,000 comments, but only 28 supported its withdrawal, according to data compiled by the OTA.

“This is representative of the influence lobbyists and election money has at the Trump administration’s USDA,” said Mark Kastel, co-director of the Cornucopia Institute, which provides research on organic agriculture and has long been critical of USDA standards.

“They’re servicing large, conventional egg producers at the disservice of small and medium-sized organic farms,” he said. These large companies recognize the growing popularity of organic products and want to trick consumers into purchasing their own by obfuscating the way they treat their animals, Kastel argued.

The worse they treat the hens, the more $$$ they make. Let’s remember what’s important here.

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