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USDA/AMS RIN: 0581-AE06 Publication ID: Fall 2021 
Title: ●Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards 

This action would establish additional practice standards l for organic livestock and poultry production. This action would add provisions to the USDA organic regulations to address and clarify that livestock and poultry living conditions (for example, outdoor access, housing environment, and stocking densities), health care practices (for example, physical alterations, administering medical treatment, and euthanasia), and animal handling and transport to and during slaughter are part of the organic certification.

Agency: Department of Agriculture(USDA)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: First time published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: Yes  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 7 CFR 205   
Legal Authority: 7 U.S.C. 6501 - 7 U.S.C. 6524   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

The Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) proposed rule is needed to clarify the USDA organic standards for livestock and poultry living conditions and health practices. The current regulations for livestock production provide general requirements but some of these provisions are ambiguous and have led to inconsistent divergent practices, particularly in the organic poultry sector. This rule responds to nine recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board and findings from a USDA Office of Inspector General (OIG) report. (See USDA, Office of the Inspector General. March 2010. Audit Report 01601-03-Hy, Oversight of the National Organic Program. Available at: This proposed rule includes provisions to support the expression of natural behaviors and the welfare of organic livestock and poultry.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

OLPS is authorized by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), 7 U.S.C. 65016524. OFPA authorizes the USDA to establish national standards governing the marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced products to assure consumers that organically produced products meet a consistent standard and to facilitate interstate commerce in fresh and processed food that is organically produced.


AMS considered several alternatives and presents these in the proposed rule. AMS presents two compliance date alternatives in the proposed rule that would affect the costs and benefits of the rule. Additionally, AMS discusses alternatives to specific policies included in the proposed rule, including alternative indoor and outdoor space requirements, and non-regulatory alternatives, including consumer education or no rule.

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

AMS estimates an annual cost of approximately $4 million annually for layer operations and an associated benefit of approximately $14 million annually. Additionally, AMS estimates an annual cost to broiler producers of approximately $12 million annually and an associated benefit of nearly $100 million annually. The costs of the rule would primarily affect USDA-certified organic operations that produce livestock and poultry. Qualitatively, AMS also anticipates the rule will establish a clear standard protecting the value of the USDA organic seal to consumers, provide a consistent, level playing field for organic livestock producers, and facilitate enforcement of organic livestock and poultry standards.


A final rule that is very similar to this proposed rule was published on January 19, 2017. That rule was subsequently withdrawn and never became effective. The USDA continues to face two legal challenges related to the withdrawal of the rule. Publishing a new proposed rule will indicate that the USDA is taking steps to advance the regulations. This could be viewed favorably by some, although others would prefer reinstating the January 2017 rule without the associated steps required to finalize a new rule.

The final rule published in January 2017 elicited mixed responses and was opposed by a multitude of producer groups, representing both organic and non-organic producers. Publication of this proposed rule is likely to produce similar responses. Additionally, USDA argued in its withdrawal of the rule that USDA had no authority under the Organic Foods Production Act to promulgate the rule, so there is legal risk in reversing direction and publishing a similar rule.

Finally, AMS plans to seek comment on providing an extended compliance date (15 years) for poultry operations that do not provide birds with access to soil or vegetation in outdoor spaces (i.e., porch systems). AMS’s presentation of this option is likely to invoke strong opinions among some stakeholders.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  03/00/2022 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: None 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Related RINs: Related to 0581-AD44, Related to 0581-AD74, Related to 0581-AD75 
Agency Contact:
Erin Healy
Director, Standards Division, National Organic Program
Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Marketing Service
Washington, DC 20024
Phone:202 617-4942