CORNUCOPIA, Wis., May 2, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The organic industry's most aggressive industry watchdog, The Cornucopia Institute, filed formal legal complaints against Aurora Dairy and their organic certifier, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, after a scathing front-page exposé in The Washington Post presented strong evidence that the largest organic milk producer in the U.S. has been operating illegally.
"The rigorous investigative work by Peter Whoriskey at The Washington Post clearly illustrates a pattern of long-term corruption by both Aurora Dairy and the USDA's National Organic Program. Our organic regulators have turned a blind eye as giant industrial operations place ethical family-scale dairy farmers at a distinct competitive disadvantage," stated Mark A. Kastel, Cornucopia's codirector.
Aurora Dairy is the largest supplier of "private label," or store-brand, organic milk in the U.S., supplying such retail giants as Walmart, Costco, Target, and other major supermarket chains.
What Whoriskey and his Washington Post colleagues found when they visited the largest Aurora dairy complex in Weld County, Colorado, was a giant feedlot where almost all of the 15,000 cows were confined to dirt and manure-covered pens rather than being out on pasture as the organic law requires.
The flood of allegedly illegal organic milk has finally caught up to the growth in the organic marketplace; organic milk processors have started cutting the price paid to farmers, placing some on quotas.
"My milk price has been cut and is likely going to be cut again," said James Goodman, a longtime organic dairy farmer from Wonewoc, Wisconsin, milking 40 cows. "We have lost about 30% of our income in the past year due to this glut of so-called 'organic' milk flooding the market. My family has been able to make a decent living farming the right way, and following the rules USDA has in place, but everyone should have to follow the rules, Aurora included. I think it's time for USDA to put an end to this unfair and illegal competition."
To empower consumers to protect their families while also economically rewarding ethical farms, Cornucopia maintains a scorecard of all organic dairy brands. "Shoppers can vote in the marketplace," said Kastel. "There is a higher authority than the USDA, or even the federal courts, and that's the consumer dollar."