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Watchdog Claims Organic Valley, Herbruck's Violating Federal Organic Standards

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Safeguard Organic Standards page.

CORNUCOPIA, Wis. The Cornucopia Institute announced it has filed a formal legal complaint with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), alleging that one of the nation's largest industrial egg producers, Michigan-based Herbruck's Poultry Ranch, is violating the federal organic standards by confining their laying hens in buildings on "factory farms" instead of providing legitimate outdoor access as required by law.

The Wisconsin-based farm policy research group also filed a similar complaint related to one of the suppliers of Organic Valley, a cooperative that secures most of its eggs from its family-scale farmer members.

"The federal organic standards clearly state that 'year-round access for all animals to the outdoors' is a requirement," states Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst with The Cornucopia Institute. "The tiny porches attached to the henhouses on Herbruck's Poultry Ranch, Petaluma Egg Farm, a major Organic Valley supplier, and a handful of other industrial egg producers, fail to meet either the intent or the letter of the law governing organic production and food labeling."

Herbruck's Poultry Ranch, based in Saranac, Michigan, is principally involved in conventional egg production, raising millions of conventional laying hens that are mostly confined in cages. They also raise, according to the Associated Press, at least 900,000 organic laying hens, principally at their corporate-owned Michigan facility, and in other locations under contract. According to public statements by company representatives, hens raised by Herbruck's do not have access to the outdoors beyond concrete enclosed porches and patios. 

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