Country’s Largest Dairy Likely to Lose Certification
CORNUCOPIA, Wis., Aug 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Cornucopia Institute has learned that the USDA appears about to revoke the organic certification of the nation’s largest industrial dairy operator, Aurora Organic Dairy, headquartered in Boulder, Colorado.
Aurora operates several giant factory dairies milking thousands of cows each in semi-arid areas of Colorado and Texas. The company has been the subject of a series of formal legal complaints filed with the USDA by The Cornucopia Institute. The complaints from the Wisconsin-based farm policy group filed in 2005 and 2006, called for a USDA investigation into allegations of numerous organic livestock management improprieties.
“After personally inspecting some of Aurora’s dairies in Texas and Colorado, we found 98% of their cattle in feedlots instead of grazing on pasture as the law requires,” stated Mark Kastel, Cornucopia’s senior farm policy analyst. Cornucopia also found that Aurora was procuring cattle from a non-certified organic source in apparent violation of the law. “Our sources tell us that USDA’s investigators found many other violations during their own probe of Aurora.”
But Kastel warned that the USDA is under intense pressure to scuttle the Aurora decertification order. “We understand that powerful political influence is being brought to bear on the USDA in an effort to delay or water down the penalties against Aurora,” noted Kastel.
Cornucopia learned of the impending enforcement action, and potential for its delay, from officials in Colorado, a political appointee at the USDA and a highly placed industry executive. “We hope that the USDA will issue tough sanctions, if warranted,” Kastel said. “And we want the agency to know that the organic community is closely monitoring this case.”
Aurora doesn’t directly market milk under its own name, but it is the country’s largest private-label producer of organic milk. Aurora packages store-brand organic dairy products for Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, Safeway, Trader Joe’s, Wild Oats, and other grocery chains.
Earlier this spring the 10,000-cow Vander Eyk factory dairy in Pixley, California lost its organic certification after an investigation revealed numerous violations of federal organic rules. The operation had been publicly spotlighted by The Cornucopia Institute for organic irregularities.
“The good news is that Cornucopia’s survey of organic dairy brands gave 90% of namebrand products very high ratings for environmental and animal practices used in milk for the dairy products,” Kastel said.
For more details, visit http://www.cornucopia.org/.
First Call Analyst:
Source: The Cornucopia Institute
CONTACT: Mark A. KastelofThe Cornucopia Institute,+1-608-625-2042
Web Site: http://www.cornucopia.org/