CORNUCOPIA, Wis., Sept. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Cornucopia Institute received a determination letter from the USDA announcing the dismissal of the organic watchdog’s formal legal complaint regarding allegations of wrongdoing at Aurora Dairy, the nation’s largest organic dairy producer. Cornucopia filed its complaint last May after a scathing investigative report in The Washington Post revealed gross improprieties at the High Meadows facility in Colorado. 

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The USDA’s comprehensive letter describing how Aurora is complying with the law is virtually unprecedented. In past cases, the department merely stated that they had closed investigations, finding the allegations to be unsubstantiated. The Washington Post, utilizing drone imagery gathered over a week’s time, found few of the 15,000 milk cows grazing at the facility, as is required by organic regulations. The USDA dismissed this evidence.

Cornucopia filed a series of complaints in late 2014 against Aurora and nearly a dozen other organic factory farm livestock operations based on its own aerial photography. Similarly, the NOP dismissed those allegations, stating the photographs revealed just «a moment in time.»

A «moment in time» should not invalidate evidence. Annual inspections by certifiers also reflect «a moment in time,» and are conducted by prearranged appointment.

Cornucopia will be filing a document request under the Freedom of Information Act to determine whether the NOP’s investigation into the facility was based on a surprise visit, or a prearranged appointment (their pattern in the past). And it will ascertain what personnel were involved, including their professional backgrounds qualifying them to make their final determinations.

Aurora, a decade ago, was found in «willful» violation of 14 tenants of the organic standards by the USDA. They received no fine at that time. The lack of justice in this matter comes as a surplus of organic milk floods the national wholesale market. Ethical, family-scale farmers and their marketers are currently suffering severe financial stress, enduring substantial cuts to their pay price, many being placed on quotas.

The Cornucopia Institute’s organic dairy brand scorecard offers consumers and wholesale buyers the opportunity to «take the law into their own hands.» Buyers of organic dairy products can find brands that support farmers who practice true foundational principles of organics: sound environmental stewardship, humane animal husbandry, and economic justice for the people who produce our food.


Contact: Mark Kastel, [email protected], 608-625-2000

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SOURCE The Cornucopia Institute