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USDA asked: Does organic mean outside?

By Staff | Feb 4, 2011

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) – Organic activists are pushing federal regulators to revise rules on how the hens that lay organic eggs should be treated.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s current rules require organic livestock to spend time outdoors where they can engage in what the agency calls “natural behavior.”

The rules don’t specify how much space the animals should have or what it should be like.

Some organic farmers give their hens time to scratch and peck in pastures.

However, on many big farms, the hens spend their time in the fresh air on concrete patios and in other enclosures.

Mark Kastel of The Cornucopia Institute said that’s not what consumers have in mind when they buy organic eggs.

A USDA spokeswoman said the department has not yet decided whether to take up the matter.

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