The National Chicken Council (NCC) released a statement recommending revision or clarification of several key aspects of the latest proposed rule from the National Organic Program (NOP) that intends to enhance bird health, protect food safety, and maintain a viable organic program.
“NCC is concerned that the proposed rule imposes unreasonable costs and requirements of doubtful benefit on organic farmers, presents grave risks to animal health… and undermines ongoing international efforts to develop poultry welfare standards,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., NCC Senior Vice President of Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, in comments submitted yesterday to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
NCC believes that the proposed standards may lead to an increase in the mortality rates for laying hens and broiler chickens from 5 to 8 percent, an increase of 60 percent. Mortality rates are a key indicator of animal welfare and flock health.
The proposed standards are also in direct opposition to Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) recommendations for biosecurity. Biosecurity has become of increased importance to poultry producers following the recent, devastating outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).
Dr. Peterson noted that the proposal drastically underestimates the cost of the requirements and the impact of those costs.
“NOP does not include the cost of an avian illness outbreak, the likelihood and magnitude of which is materially increased through the proposed outdoor access requirement.”