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About the USDA Policy U-turn

At Vital Farms, our standards are defined by what we believe is right. We know that happy, healthy hens require a minimum of 108sqft each, with open, rotated pastures, fresh air and sunshine. We will never compromise that in any way, and every one of the girls in our care will continue to enjoy the best possible life for a laying hen in the United States.  This is because the humane and ethical treatment of farm animals has always been at the heart of everything we do – our passion, our purpose and our mission and we have led the way in establishing the highest standards for laying hens.

About 15 years ago, several of the mega-producers of USDA Organic eggs found a loophole that allowed them to keep organic laying hens indoors with no access to the outdoors.  They used language like “sunlit porches” or other such terms to cover up that reality. We have lobbied the USDA for ten years to adopt measures that ensure outdoor access and a minimum space for any laying hens covered by the ‘Organic’ certification, and were pleased to have the USDA adopt the  OLPP (Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Proposed rule) passed earlier this year, which would have achieved this minimum goal for all organic laying hens. 

However, as you may have read, the Trump administration has overturned this rule, despite overwhelming support from the public. So the old USDA standards of no outdoor access for laying hens will remain in place. 

While this is a huge disappointment to us, it has no impact whatsoever on how we raise our own hens. Our standards continue to be defined by what we believe is right. We know that happy, healthy hens require a minimum of 108sqft each, with open, rotated pastures, fresh air and sunshine. We will never compromise that in any way, and every one of the girls in our care will continue to enjoy the best possible life for a laying hen in the United States. 

If you wish to add your voice to this debate, the ruling is open to comment for 30 days – just click on this link.