If you’re going to pay twice as much for milk because you like the idea that the cows have a yard to play in—that’s your business—but you’d better be getting what you pay for.
According to the USDA one “organic” milk producer that supplies milk to Wal-Mart, Costco, Target and Safeway has been cutting corners.
Aurora Organic Daily, a private company based in Boulder, Colorado, says it never broke any rules. But Aurora, which operates large-scale organic farms in Colorado and Texas, signed a consent decree with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, promising to clean up its act.
“We’re doing a transformation – cows reduced, pasture increased, all animals organic from birth and a significantly increased commitment to research,” says Clark Driftmier, vice president of marketing at Aurora.
An Aurora farm in Plattsville, Colorado, for example, which once had as many as 4,200 cows, will reduce that number to 1,250, even as most of the farm’s buildings and paddocks are torn down to create more pasture land.
The Cornucopia Institute, a tiny group that fights to prevent companies from trading unfairly on the green-sounding label of “organic”, had this to say:
“These were blatant violations,” says Mark Kastel [spokesperson]. “What did they think, that we’d just fallen off the turnip truck? It was almost insulting.”
According to the USDA, the milk producer in question had racked up a bunch of violations including “failing to provide cows with access to pasture, introducing conventional dairy cows into organic milk production too quickly, buying non-organic bedding for its cows and not keeping proper records.”
An organic milk ripoff [Fortune]