Organic food industry sues USDA over slowdown of livestock welfare rules

In a challenge to the Trump administration's drive to erase Obama-era regulations, the organic food industry accused USDA of unlawfully delaying animal welfare rules that give livestock on organic farms more elbow room than allowed at conventional operations. Livestock groups and their allies in Congress have alternated between ridiculing the organic livestock rule and trying to scrap it.

Drive to overturn ‘ag gag’ laws heads to the Midwest

After courtroom victories in Utah and Idaho, "expect challenges in the Midwest to so-called 'ag gag' laws that criminalize certain forms of data collection and recording on farms and ranches," reports Harvest Public Media. University of Denver law professor Justin Marceau says, "Laws in states like Iowa and Kansas are crying out for a challenge at this point," adding that animal rights groups are preparing challenges in at least two states.

Activists seek to make all hens in California cage-free

Animal welfare activists, led by the Humane Society of the United States, have filed papers in California to introduce an initiative that would make all eggs cage-free in the state by 2022. 

USDA mulls update of animal-welfare license rules; HSUS says data on mistreatment is hidden

The USDA is opening a 60-day comment period on potential updates to the license requirements for people who breed, sell, or exhibit animals for commercial purposes. At the same time, the Humane Society of the United States says the USDA’s new “search tool” for accessing animal-abuse records “is still virtually unusable.”

Twenty-nine states make it illegal for counties and cities to pass seed laws [UPDATE]

With little notice, more than two dozen state legislatures have passed “seed-preemption laws” designed to block counties and cities from adopting their own rules on the use of seeds, including bans on GMOs. Opponents say that there’s nothing more fundamental than a seed, and that now, in many parts of the country, decisions about what can be grown have been taken out of local control and put solely in the hands of the state. (No paywall)

Perdue gets high marks from activists on its chicken reforms

The 21-day-old chicken — white-feathered, dark-eyed, with a brush-cut of pale yellow bristles above its beak — climbed carefully up a ramp, teetered briefly at the top, then launched itself into space. It landed on another bird, flapped hard, and gave its accidental landing pad an apologetic peck. Then it wandered off into a crowd of more than 49,000 chickens just like it that were hopping into boxes, poking their beaks into straw bales, and settling in pools of sunlight for a snooze.

House appropriators open the door to horse slaughter

The long-running ban on horse slaughter in the United States, a rider on the annual USDA-FDA funding bill, would end on Sept. 30 under a vote by the House Appropriations Committee. Before clearing the bill for a floor vote, the committee refused, 27-25, to include the provision in the $145 billion funding bill for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1.

Federal judge overturns Utah ‘ag-gag’ law

Siding with animal-rights activists, U.S. district judge Robert Shelby ruled that Utah's so-called "ag gag" law is an unconstitutional violation of the right of free speech, said the Salt Lake Tribune. Legislators in a variety of states have pursued the laws, which prohibit surreptitious recording of farming practices, following graphic accounts of mistreatment of livestock.

Supreme Court won’t hear challenge to California egg law

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to the landmark California law that says table eggs shipped into the state for sale must come from farms that give chickens enough room to stand, turn around, and fully extend their wings.