Organic Pit Bull


Wisconsin-based Cornucopia Institute bills itself as “the nation’s most aggressive organic watchdog” Pit Bull would be more accurate. Once these guys sink in their fangs, they won’t let go.

Executives at Aurora Organic Dairy, the nation’s largest producer of private-label organic milk for companies such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Safeway, are learning this lesson the painful way.

As I reported, after being prodded to take action by Cornucopia for more than two years, the USDA finally announced on August 29 that Aurora, whose factory farms cover nearly 6,000 acres in Texas and Colorado, had violated the Organic Food Processing Act by confining cows on feedlots and slipping conventionally raised animals into organic herds. But instead of revoking Aurora’s organic certification, the USDA worked out a settlement with the corporation and imposed no sanctions whatsoever.

At that point, Cornucopia, filing legal complaints with the USDA and threatening to haul Aurora into civil court.

Sam Fromartz, writing in the Rocky Mountain News, drew my attention to the most disheartening aspect of this saga. To police the entire, $17-billion organic food industry in this country, the USDA has a staff of about a half-dozen people. Little wonder some producers cut corners.

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