USDA takes steps to rectify Trump-era position on farm animal welfare standards

USDA takes steps to rectify Trump-era position on farm animal welfare standards

June 18, 2021—Yesterday, the United States Department of Agriculture took the first step to rectify a decision made during the previous administration which negatively impacted farm animal welfare standards.

In January 2017, the USDA issued a sweeping rule that would have strengthened standards for animal welfare on organic farms. The rule included an array of housing, husbandry and management standards—such as prohibiting cutting the tails off cattle and setting minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for egg-laying chickens.

Unfortunately, under the Trump administration, the agency decided to ignore overwhelming public and organic industry support and withdrew the rule on March 13, 2018. Since then, the Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Legislative Fund have been fighting the agency over this decision, bringing a federal lawsuit challenging the withdrawal and pressuring the agency to reconsider.

Yesterday, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA will reconsider the previous administration’s position on the rule, and that the agency will begin a rulemaking to address animal welfare standards.

“In our view this rule was one of the most important rules to establish better living conditions for farm animals to ever come out of a federal agency, and we’re so pleased that the Biden administration is rectifying the Trump administration’s catastrophic error when they withdrew the rule,” said Sara Amundson, president of the Humane Society Legislative Fund.

“Secretary Vilsack has made public statements on his support for animal welfare, and we’re happy to see him backing those statements up with concrete actions. We look forward to working with the USDA to ensure that the proposed rule includes significant improvements for animal welfare,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States.

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The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues, and to support humane candidates for office. Visit us on all our channels: on the web at, on our blog at, on Facebook at and on Twitter at

Founded in 1954, the Humane Society of the United States and its affiliates around the globe fight the big fights to end suffering for all animals. Together with millions of supporters, the HSUS takes on puppy mills, factory farms, trophy hunts, animal testing and other cruel industries, and together with its affiliates, rescues and provides direct care for over 100,000 animals every year. The HSUS works on reforming corporate policy, improving and enforcing laws and elevating public awareness on animal issues. More at

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