The Biden administration plans to reissue tougher standards for livestock and poultry production that will phase out the egg industry’s practice of using porches to provide hens with access to the outdoors.

The regulations were originally finalized as President Barack Obama was leaving office, but the Trump administration withdrew them in 2018.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement Thursday that USDA's National Organic Program will draft a rule that would “disallow the use of porches as outdoor space in organic production over time” and address other issues that were part of the earlier rule.

The proposal should be ready for White House review in six to nine months, he said.

“We look forward to receiving public comments on those topics and, after reviewing the comments, USDA will publish a final rule,” Vilsack said.

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The Organic Trade Association welcomed Vilsack's announcement. 

"The USDA has already conceded that its economic analysis underpinning the Trump withdrawal of the (Obama) rule is flawed," the group said. "We hope that USDA’s acknowledgment of these matters that are of grave importance to the organic industry facilitates a full and timely resolution of this critical issue."

While some egg producers balked at tougher standards for outdoor access, advocates argue that consumers expect hens to be treated that way.

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