Monday, March 26, 2007

USDA & Major Organic Dairies Aiming to Water Down Organic Milk Standards

Thousands of organic consumers and dairy farmers, represented by the Organic Consumers Association and Cornucopia Institute, have repeatedly complained to the US Department of Agriculture over the past five years that the USDA must close the glaring loopholes in the National Organic Dairy Standards. These loopholes have allowed unscrupulous dairy companies such as Horizon and Aurora Organic to operate intensive confinement dairy feedlots (where the animals have little or no access to pasture) and still label their milk and dairy products as "USDA Organic."

We are therefore not surprised to learn that Horizon and Aurora have been busy lobbying the USDA to keep pasture and feed requirements vague--hoping to deceive consumers by claiming that organic dairy animals must have access to pasture, but then only requiring a particular minimum of 120 days per year. What this means in practical terms is that the USDA will soon propose new federal organic dairy standards that allow so-called organic factory farms to create the impression that their milk cows are being mainly grazed on pasture, while in fact unscrupulous certifiers and bureaucrats in the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) will allow them to get away with "symbolic access to pasture" i.e. intensively confined, stressed-out dairy cows briefly chewing their cuds outside giant milking parlors in between their three-times-a-day milkings.

What is surprising to learn is that three highly respected organic dairy brands, Stonyfield Farm, Organic Valley, & Humboldt Creamery have joined with Aurora & Horizon to lobby the USDA for this "Big Fix".

read more (Organic Consumers Association)