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The differences between organic and non-organic meat just got a lot smaller

organic farmers Pin It
Photo: Stocksy/Trinette Reed

What does it mean to buy organic vs. non-organic meat? Not as much as it used to, thanks to a USDA decision this week that reverses years of policy dictating that organic farmers treat their animals more humanely than conventional livestock, according to The Washington Post.

The Trump administration argued that the Organic Food Production Act—which was enacted in 1990 and created the “USDA Organic” label—does not require “broadly prescriptive, stand-alone animal welfare regulations.” Based on this new interpretation, the Agriculture Department says enforcement would exceed its authority, Food Dive reports.

To be clear, there was never an official law detailing how farmers should treat their livestock, but an official rulebook was finalized earlier this year and was scheduled to be put into effect in the spring of next year.

“Most striking is the administration’s continued confusion that organic standards are mandatory rather than voluntary.”

Some of the standards addressed in the proposed guidelines were making sure animals had enough space, access to light, and time spent outside. But the recent ruling put an end to that.

As you can imagine, the Organic Trade Association is pretty upset about the rulebook not being ratified. “Most striking is the administration’s continued confusion that organic standards are mandatory rather than voluntary,” the association says in a statement, adding that they plan on amending the lawsuit. You can bet that this is one conversation that’s far from over.

Speaking of policy changes, are “meat taxes” the next “soda tax”? Plus, another way the government is making eating healthy just that much harder.