The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed a new rule for the standards around raising organic chickens. On the surface, it seems to be heading in the right direction; new provisions for living conditions, clarifications on existing requirements, and differentiations between avian and mammalian living conditions.
Under the surface, we find some very rotten rules.
A summary of them are:
- Allowing porches with concrete floors to be counted as outdoor space
- Chickens will only have one to two square feet of outdoor space, depending on age and weight
- Up to 50% of the outdoor space can be paved with concrete
- Chickens will only have one to two square feet of indoor space, depending on age and weight
- Laying hens can be confined indoors for as long as the first 21 weeks of life
- Allowing the chopping off of part of the chickens’ beaks to prevent them from pecking their flock mates
- Elimination of standards requiring natural light
- Implementation of various elements will be phased in over three, eight, and fifteen years (grandfathering in current CAFO elements for up to 15 years)
Bottom line: it is not a good time to be a chicken in the U.S.
But what can we do?
The USDA currently has an open public comment period, which lasts until October 11, 2022. The public will be able to make their comments (here, or here) until that time.
Please use your voice to make comments, and then back it up with your dollars!
Choosing to buy products directly from farmers and ranchers will have the biggest impact. You can find many regenerative farmers here on Regeneration International’s Regenerative Farm Map.
You can also check out Cornucopia’s Organic Poultry Scorecard, and their Organic Egg Scorecard.
Article adapted from OrganicConsumers.org.