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Cornucopia Institute: Corporate Organics Circles the Wagons

September 19, 2007
9:00 AM

CONTACT: Cornucopia Institute
Mark Kastel, 608.625.2942

Corporate Organics Circles the Wagons

WASHINGTON - September 19 - Here are the facts:

1. The founders of Horizon Organics (now owned by Dean Foods) and Aurora Organic Dairy have converted a number of feedlot dairies in semi-arid western states (factory-farms), milking thousands of cows, to "organic" production.

2. Since the organic community started challenging their propriety, the number of these industrial-scale farms has grown from one (the original Horizon feedlot dairy in Idaho—certified by Quality Assurance International) to approximately 15 today (the majority of which are also certified by QAI). Now a surplus of milk, created almost exclusively by these questionable facilities, is driving down wholesale prices paid to family farmers and endangering their survival, as well as blocking new family-farm conversions to organic dairying.

3. The Cornucopia Institute has filed a series of legal complaints against industrial farms owned by and/or supplying Aurora and Horizon. The first of these giant farms (milking 10,000 cows), certified by QAI and historically delivering milk to Horizon and Stremicks, was decertified earlier this year.

4. The second target of our complaints, Aurora, was found by the USDA to be in "willful" violation of 14 different points of the organic standards (including illegally confining their cattle and bringing in conventional cattle). In the most serious of the 14 breaches, the USDA found that they had willfully sold milk since December 2003 that was labeled as organic but did not qualify to be labeled as organic. This is a gross violation of consumers’ trust, and the current surpluses created have put family farmers’ livelihoods in jeopardy.

At the bottom of this message, please find the latest damage-control spin from both QAI and Aurora.

The factory-farm production associated with Aurora, Horizon, and Stremicks is the biggest scandal in the history of the organic industry. What we are now experiencing is a desperate damage-control public relations campaign by the companies involved.

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Mark A. Kastel
Codirector and Senior Farm Policy Analyst
The Cornucopia Institute
Cornucopia, Wisconsin


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