Final Arguments Upcoming for OTA Livestock Lawsuit

The Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) lawsuit against the USDA over the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule will move to final arguments. After multiple failed attempts by USDA to dismiss the case, a U.S. District Court in the District of Columbia has confirmed a timeline for final arguments. OTA’s motion for summary judgment will be due on October 18, USDA’s reply is due November 22, OTA will further reply by December 20, and the USDA’s final reply is due on January 17, 2020. 
 
Background on the Lawsuit
 
The 2017 lawsuit alleges that the USDA violated the Organic Foods Production Act by failing to enact the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule, which was passed by the National Organic Standards Board after a 10-year rulemaking process. Last year, two influential animal welfare groups, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Welfare Institute, joined the lawsuit as co-plaintiffs. 
 
The two-year-old lawsuit specifically alleges that the USDA violated the Administrative Procedure Act by delaying the rule’s implementation without public process and by proposing actions to indefinitely delay or kill the rule. Additionally, OTA alleges that USDA’s actions violate the Organic Foods Production Act, which includes a consultation provision that defines a clear process for the continued refinement and revision of the organic standards. Another key point of contention is USDA’s use of the Trump Administration’s Regulatory Freeze as a legal rationale for removing the rule. OTA continues to point out that organic regulations are both industry-driven and voluntary and should not be the target of deregulation by the federal government.  
 
CCOF Weighs In
 
In January 2018, CCOF submitted a comment to USDA in opposition to the rule’s withdrawal. CCOF’s comment was among tens of thousands in support of the rule’s implementation. Our policy team will continue to monitor this lawsuit and advocate for strong organic livestock standards. 
 

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