WASHINGTON, Aug. 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Natural Prairie, one of the nation's largest "organic" factory dairies managing over 25,000 animals in Texas, is accused of gross "mistreatment and neglect" of their animals.
OrganicEye, the investigative arm of Beyond Pesticides, filed a formal legal complaint with the USDA to re-open an investigation into animal abuse at Natural Prairie and cheating on lack of federal grazing requirements for organic cattle stating, "confining animals in building and stabbing them with screwdrivers is not "organic".
"This scandal reflects a historic USDA pattern," said OrganicEye's Mark Kastel. "Victims of this fraud include ethical, hard-working organic farm families who follow both the spirit and letter of the law, and consumers who choose organic dairy products both for the superior safety, health, and nutrition it offers," Kastel added.
FOIA documents obtained by OrganicEye reveal that the USDA's past investigation of Natural Prairie relied upon audits from the Texas Department of Agriculture, which has been sanctioned by USDA for systemic malfeasance. USDA also used two other private dairy industry groups with little background in organics to assess Natural Prairie's organic practices.
"Instead of depending on experts in organic animal husbandry and organic certification compliance, or even interviewing the initial witnesses, the USDA subcontracted the investigation of serious allegations, " said Kathie Arnold, Policy Chair of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance. "It takes someone who is intimately familiar with organic livestock production and regulations to recognize violations of organic standards."
Natural Prairie ships semi-trailers of milk ac ross the country, undercutting local organic farmers. "We need to eliminate the institutional rot at the USDA that allows such cheating," observed Kastel.
Natural Prairie is adding a new 4300 cow industrial-scale facility in Newton County, Indiana. But it faces lawsuits from Indiana's Hoosier Environmental Council. They charge that Natural Prairie illegally filled in ditches and wetlands during construction in one of the state's most fragile ecosystems, the Kankakee River basin.
"Natural Prairie's conduct is especially concerning given that it decided to build its polluting factory farm in one of the most ecologically sensitive and historically significant areas of Indiana," said staff attorney Kim Ferraro.
OrganicEye has additionally filed a legal complaint against organic certifier Oregon Tilth for its role in Indiana. Federal organic law requires organic operations to maintain or improve natural resources, including soil and water quality, according to Kastel.
Read the full article: https://organiceye.org/natural-prairie-expose/
Contact: Mark Kastel