Coalition Demanding Organic Integrity Prevails
PIXLEY, Calif., June 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — After a seven-year-long battle between organic farmers and consumers and the USDA, the first of a handful of industrial-scale dairies, producing what they claimed was organic milk, has been shutdown by regulators. The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin based organic watchdog, announced that the Case Vander Eyk Jr. in Pixley, California, has been forced to suspend selling organic milk. The 10,000-cow feedlot dairy, near Fresno, was found to be operating outside of the organic law.
In early 2005, Cornucopia filed the first of a series of formal legal complaints with the USDA against large factory-farm operators, including Vander Eyk, alleging that the mammoth “factory farms” were violating the spirit and letter of the organic law by confining their animals to pens and sheds rather than grazing them.
“This is a big victory for the farm families around the country who work so hard to create milk and dairy products that meet a high ethical standard,” said Mark Kastel, Cornucopia’s senior farm policy analyst. “Scofflaws, like the Vander Eyk dairy, place family farmers at a competitive disadvantage.”
According to governmental regulators the dairy lost its ability to ship organic milk last month after receiving a suspension notice from its USDA- accredited certifier, Quality Assurance International (QAI), for serious questions surrounding the record-keeping such as assuring that cows are actually managed organically (without antibiotics and hormones), fed organically produced feed (without toxic pesticides and herbicides), and allowed to graze rather than confined in feedlots.
“It’s excellent to see QAI fulfilling their responsibility under the organic law,” said Lisa McCrory, a certification expert for Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont. “This is an example of the system working as designed-organic inspectors uncovering problems and protecting the public by shutting down farmers or processors if problems are discovered.”
“Small and medium-size family organic dairy farms around the country have lobbied for years for the USDA to step in and shutdown the large industrial dairies that are exploiting the reputation for quality we have earned with consumers,” said Arden Landis, who milks 100 cows in Kirkwood, PA. “The reason our customers have made this a growing industry is they trust us and the integrity of the organic label. We don’t plan on letting them down!”
View Vander Eyk photos at: http://cornucopia.org/pasture/?page_id=194
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Source: The Cornucopia Institute