Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the Biden administration — specifically, Vilsack’s department — will be moving to undo another particular deregulation push by the Trump administration. On January 19, 2017 — the last full day of the Obama administration — federal authorities finalized what was known as the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule, which “would have increased federal regulation of livestock and poultry for certified organic producers and handlers,” as a statement from the Department of Agriculture put it. The Trump administration eliminated that rule, but now, Vilsack says that his team will “reconsider” the Trump administration’s interpretation of federal law that led them to ditch the rule.
Interestingly, Vilsack actually served as Agriculture Secretary in the Obama administration as well, and he led the Department of Agriculture until just days before the original finalization of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule. This week, Vilsack released a statement reading as follows:
‘We intend to reconsider the prior Administration’s interpretation that the Organic Foods Production Act does not authorize USDA to regulate the practices that were the subject of the 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule. I have directed the National Organic Program to begin a rulemaking to address this statutory interpretation and to include a proposal to disallow the use of porches as outdoor space in organic production over time and on other topics that were the subject of the OLPP final rule. We anticipate sending the proposed rule to OMB within six to nine months from the date of the remand. We look forward to receiving public comments on those topics and, after reviewing the comments, USDA will publish a final rule.’
Thus, Vilsack is seeking to impose stricter restrictions on organic livestock and poultry production. Restricting the usage of so-called porches to fulfill requirements for outdoor space in organic animal farming would seemingly force producers to provide greater freedom to move for the animals. The action is one of a number of steps that the Biden administration has undertaken to address some of the fallout of the Trump era. For example, the Biden administration has also suspended permits for oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, where the Trump administration moved to grant drilling rights a short time before leaving power.