Monday, November 7, 2011

Your chance to influence the way animals are raised

Great news for animals as last spring, the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) urged the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to strengthen its proposed animal welfare standards for the National Organic Program. As a result significant improvements have been made in the proposed standards, including increased outdoor space for turkeys and a requirement that pain management be provided for dehorning and disbudding of cattle.

However the AWI is still not 100% happy with the current proposals. Although they have a minimum space requirement for birds, it does not for pigs. The proposal also lack specifications for the type of space e.g. grass cover, shade and shelter. Under this current proposal AWI believes there is little difference between animals raised as organic and those raised under conventional standards.

The Livestock Committee of the NOSB will be meeting at the end of November to vote on the latest version of the proposed regulatory standards for animal welfare and stocking rates and handling, transport, and slaughter (click on the links to read the proposals). The NOSB is taking public comment until the 13th November and the AWI is asking you to assist. Click here to submit your comments. There is also an option to attach documents should you need more space.

For more information on the AWI, please visit

Below is more information from AWI about your submission to NOSB.

To assist you, a sample comment is provided below. You may copy and paste our sample, but putting it in your own words will help give your comment more weight – just be sure to stay under the 2,000-character limit. Don’t forget to mention if you are a regular consumer of organic products and/or an organic farmer.

Sample Comment:
I am writing to comment on the Livestock Committee’s animal welfare proposals. While the proposed recommendations are a good start toward creating a comprehensive animal welfare program for organic production, they do not go far enough. For this reason, I support the Livestock Committee’s Minority Opinion, which provides more meaningful standards that address natural behavior, outdoor access, and the environment. More specifically, I believe that:
1. Minimum space allowances for pigs should be incorporated into regulation, just as avian space requirements are included.
2. Space allowances for chickens should be increased from 1-2 sq ft per bird to 5 sq ft per bird.
3. The regulation should include minimum requirements for the quality of outdoor access areas for both pigs and poultry.
4. Routine beak trimming of birds, tail docking of sheep, early weaning of pigs and all forms of forced molting should be specifically prohibited in regulation.
Making these modifications will increase animal welfare and help bring organic standards closer to what consumers expect of the label. Adoption of the Livestock Committee's Minority Opinion is a critical step towards achieving the Committee's goal of making the organic seal a "gold standard" for humane treatment.

To submit your comment via mail, send to:
Ms. Lorraine Coke
National Organic Standards Board
1400 Independence Ave., SW.
Room 2646–S, Mail Stop 0268
Washington, DC 20250–0268
If you’re mailing your comment, identify docket number AMS-NOP-11-0081 on your comment and ensure that it is received by November 13.

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