Breaking: Regulations Not Being Enforced—Watchdog Asks for USDA to Remove Program Management
Ideally, chickens enjoy the outdoors without restrictions and organic milk cows graze on grass. At least that is the picture that you have in your mind when paying steep prices for these “organic” products.
Unfortunately, we may have been deceived once more and this time the Cornucopia institute is taking legal action.
The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group, announced filing formal legal complaints against 14 industrial livestock operations producing milk, meat and eggs being marketed, allegedly illegally, as organic.
The federal organic regulations make it very clear that all organic livestock must have access to the outdoors and that ruminants, like dairy cows, must have access to pasture,” said Mark A. Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst at the Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute. “The vast majority of these massive, industrial-scale facilities, some managing 10,000-20,000 head of cattle, and upwards of 1 million laying hens, had 100% of their animals confined in giant buildings or feedlots.”
“The inaction by the USDA places thousands of ethical family-scale farmers, who are competing with a couple of dozen giant dairies, at a competitive disadvantage,” said Kevin Engelbert, a New York-based dairyman, milking 140 cows who, along with his family, was the first certified organic dairy producer in the U.S.
“The organic standards are scale-neutral,” said Kastel. “However, if properly enforced the standards are scale-limiting. At some point the magnitude of these operations becomes preposterous — because their practical ability to meet minimum organic and humane livestock standards becomes impossible.”
A photo gallery of the apparent abuses by the giant certified organic operations in question can be found at http://www.cornucopia.org/organic-factory-farm-investigation.
Just like the debate over the farm bill, where limiting payments to large-scale operations has never gained traction with either political party, the problems in the organic industry appear to be bipartisan in nature.
“Follow the money,” said Kastel. “Although the food industry pretty much ignored organics when Congress passed the enabling legislation, as part of the 1990 farm bill, now that giant corporations like General Mills, Smucker’s, Kellogg, and WhiteWave have massive investments in organic pioneering brands, their lobbyists are all over the USDA making sure that the decisions that come out of the agency favor their preferred industrial model of food production.”
The prominent infographic, Who Owns Organics, can be accessed on the Cornucopia website
View the Individual Photo Galleries of The Farms In Question:
Burns Poultry (Herbrucks)
Bushman Farms (Organic Valley)
Delta Egg Farm
Green Meadow (Herbrucks)
Hilltop LLC – Boehning Dairy
Horizon Dairy (WhiteWave)
Idalou Egg Ranch
Peer-reviewed published research indicates clear nutritional advantages in consuming milk and meat from cattle that are grazed on fresh grass, including elevated levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
Eggs and chickens from birds that are allowed, as the law requires, to engage in their instinctive behaviors as omnivores in foraging on grass and insects, produce eggs that are coveted as being more nutritious and more flavorful.
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