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Action Alert--Stop Allowing Factory Farm Dairies to Be Certified as Organic

Action Alert

From: Cornucopia Institute
P.O. Box 126
Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
organic@cornucopia.org
http://www.cornucopia.org/
608-625-2042

It's time for organic consumers and farmers to draw a line in the sand!

Now that organic agriculture is a $15 billion industry and growing, it is
squarely in the crosshairs of multinational corporate sharpshooters. Major
food manufacturers are entering organic production, cutting corners, jacking
up prices, and endangering the integrity of organic agriculture (factory
farms, non-organic inputs, and imported ingredients with questionable
certification).

Some large corporations and their "friendly certifiers," along with a
complacent USDA, have become masters at creating loopholes for corporate
organic farming. Want to import vegetables or feed grains from Third World
countries without USDA site certification visits? Raise chickens without
access to the outdoors? Include unapproved preservatives in your product?
Buy replacement dairy heifers shot-up with antibiotics and from non-organic
sources? Operate a factory farm with 70,000 chickens or 5000 cows? No
problem!

What is an Organic Farm?

After years of inaction, the USDA¹s National Organic Program has recently
been forced to address a number of large, industrial dairy farms pasture that are producing "organic" milk. These factory farms range in
size from approximately 3000 to 6000 cows and are basically confinement
feedlots without legitimate access to pasture for feed and exercise, as
required by the federal organic regulations. Milk from most of these
mega-farms is being distributed by Dean/Horizon, the largest milk bottler in
the United States, and under a number of private-label brands that are
available at natural food and conventional grocers.

These corporate farms and their wealthy investors are jeopardizing the
livelihoods of organic family-scale dairy farmers throughout the United
States, along with the more modest-sized companies and cooperatives that
market their milk.

Turf War

Recently, The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based advocacy group that
supports family farmers, filed formal a complaints one of these factory
farms, with 5600 cows, operating in Colorado. This issue will come to a
head at the semiannual meeting of the National Organic Standards Board
(NOSB) in Washington, D.C., March 1­3.

Farmers and consumers will make their voice heard at this meeting. Many
farmers in the Northeast, and others as far away as California, will be
coming to testify in support of enacting strong rules requiring access to
pasture for dairy cows, sheep, goats, and beef cattle. They will also call
for enforcement of the requirement for access to the outdoors for other
species such as poultry.

Make Your Voice Heard
1. Please share this action alert with your circle of friends and
colleagues.

2. E-mail, fax, or mail a letter to the USDA (a sample letter is
available at www.cornucopia.org <http://www.cornucopia.org/> ). If you mail
all your comments to The Cornucopia Institute by February 25 (or e-mail by
February 28), we will hand carry your message and deliver it formally at the
Washington, D.C., NOSB meeting. Please see the e-mail and U.S. mail
addresses below.

3. Please consider coming to the meeting in person. This is especially
important if you are an organic livestock producer. For meeting
information, directions, and accommodation options contact
organic@cornucopia.org.

4. If you are an organic livestock producer or processor and cannot make
it to the meeting, we will do our best to partner you with another
farmer/rancher or a consumer from the Washington area who will read your
three-minute written testimony. Again, please contact The Cornucopia
Institute, preferably via e-mail, for full instructions on preparing your
(proxy) testimony.

You Have the Power

Whether it is livestock raised in industrial conditions, imported organic
soybeans from Brazil, or name-brand organic vegetables from China (burning
down rain forests and shipping food around the world is not sustainable!), a
lot is on the line right now for family-scale farmers. All the hope that
organic agriculture has offered is at risk. If successful, this first
action concerning organic livestock production will demonstrate to the
agribusiness lobbyists, USDA bureaucrats, and members of Congress that the
organic farming community is going to fight like hell to maintain the
ethical reputation we have earned in the eyes of the consumer. Please join
us! For more information contact:

"Never doubt that a small, highly committed group of individuals can change
the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."