VIROQUA, Wisc., Aug. 22, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Natural Prairie Dairy, one of the first "organic" dairies to employ industrial stocking practices, recently made headlines again. In July, the Animal Recovery Mission (ARM) released a video and full report, detailing severe abuse of dairy cattle at an operation housing approximately 14,000 cows, certified USDA organic by the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA).
"The abuse caught by the undercover investigator is appalling, whether it comes from an organic or conventional dairy," commented Marie Burcham, JD, The Cornucopia Institute's director of domestic policy. "Cornucopia reported to the USDA in 2010 that this dairy was violating organic regulations. Almost a decade later, Natural Prairie Dairy has not been decertified. We want proof that the USDA is willing to enforce the law."
TDA certifies some of the most egregious factory farms and has had serious non-compliances in years past. According to Freedom of Information Act disclosures, TDA failed to conduct annual inspections on approximately 22% of their clients in one year, had insufficient personnel to implement the organic certification program, and failed to conduct unannounced inspections.
Burcham continued, "The Texas Department of Agriculture has a long history of stretching the organic rules and regulations. The fact that they are still an accredited certifier and Natural Prairie Dairy continues to operate shows deep enforcement problems within the organic program."
Cornucopia filed its first legal complaint against Natural Prairie Dairy in 2010. In 2014, Cornucopia flyover investigations found that Natural Prairie Dairy was stocking their pastures at an unsustainable rate – when they allowed the cows to graze at all. The USDA claimed Cornucopia's images depicted only "a single moment in time" and took no enforcement action. It remains to be seen whether the USDA will follow up on the ARM investigator's claims that even healthy cattle are only allowed to graze for approximately one hour daily.
Cornucopia encourages dairy consumers to purchase milk from family-scale farms and brands dedicated to organic principles. Cornucopia's Organic Dairy Scorecard helps discerning shoppers choose the very best for their families.