There is a battle going on in the White House for the very soul of the organic dairy movement—and possibly over the future of small family-operated dairy farms—and you don’t even know it.
At issue is an obscure rule in the USDA Organic label that requires “access to pasture” for organic dairy cows. Barry Estabrook, ex of Gourmet, lays it out:
In the early 2000s, virtually all of the nation’s organic dairy farmers—not to mention the millions of consumers willing to pay a premium for organic products—agreed that milk certified as organic by the United States Department of Agriculture had to come from cows that had access to pasture.
As government regulations go, it sounds pretty straightforward: room to roam, clean air to breathe, fresh grass to eat. And that was the general consensus on what the National Organic Standards required.
But beginning in the mid-2000s, at about the time when it became evident that the green “USDA Organic” label translated into bigger profits, huge Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) with herds of up to 10,000 cows located in western states got into the organic milk business.
And that’s where things started to get ugly. The giant dairies wanted a piece of the organic action and began to work the rules to qualify. According to Estabrook, here’s what “access to pasture” meant to companies like Horizon Organics or Aurora Dairy, the milk giant that supplies many big box discounters with organic milk:
In some cases, a narrow, grassless strip outside the vast barns in which the animals were kept was considered “pasture” because some hay had been spread there.
National Organic Standard Board (NOSB) allowances for cows and their very young calves to be kept indoors for a short period after birth were twisted to include all milking cows being kept inside 24/7 for 310 days a year.
Either through bureaucratic lassitude or willful neglect, the big producers were helped every step of the way by USDA officials. View full post on Vital Votes Health Blog – Natural Health Articles by Dr. Mercola