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Agriculture Committee Leadership Request Comment Period Extension for USDA Organic Livestock and Poultry Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate and House Agriculture Committee leadership today called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to grant a 90-day extension of the public comment period for the Agency’s proposed rule regarding revised organic livestock and poultry production standards.

Agriculture Committee Chairmen Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Rep. K. Michael Conaway, R-Texas, and Ranking Members Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., expressed multiple concerns with the proposed rule, urging USDA to address those concerns prior to publishing a final or interim final rule. 

Both the Senate Agriculture Committee and House Agriculture Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture this week held hearings on the U.S. livestock and poultry sectors, which included testimony from a variety of producers.

The following is the text of the letter sent to USDA on May 26, 2016: 

We write to you today regarding the proposed rule, “National Organic Program; Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices,” published in the Federal Register on April 13, 2016. Due to the complex nature of this rule, we request a 90 day extension of the comment period, from 60 days to 150 days. Additional time is necessary for stakeholders to evaluate the changes made in the proposed rule and provide comprehensive feedback on the potential impacts if the rule is implemented.  

Our constituents have expressed significant concern regarding possible unintended consequences, including reduced access to organic products, substantially increased organic food costs for consumers, significant disruption to the organic feed and processed organic products industries, increased exposure to disease and mortality for organic poultry, increased risk of contamination or food-borne illness, and significant barriers for current organic producers to maintain organic certification. We respectfully request additional time to ensure more thorough public comment on these key areas to inform your decisions prior to this rule moving forward.

We appreciate the work you do on behalf of America’s farmers and ranchers and thank you in advance for considering our request.