Organic Egg Business Being Hijacked by Corporate Agribusinesses — Help Reverse this Scandal!

September 26th, 2010

[This Action Alert is Over]
Meeting October 25-28, 2010 in Madison, Wisconsin
Attend or mail in your proxy letter ASAP!
Imagine 80,000 laying hens in a single building, crowded in confinement conditions, on “farms” with hundreds of thousands or a million birds. Is that organic?

How about a tiny enclosed concrete porch, accessible by only 3%-5% of the tens of thousands of birds inside a henhouse. Does that pass as outdoor access as required by federal organic law?

Industrial-scale egg producers are gaming the system, producing “organic” eggs in huge factory farms, crowding tens of thousands of chickens in two-story buildings with small porches passing as “outdoor access.”

Some of the factory farms don’t even bother with the phony-baloney porches—they have notes from their veterinarian saying (and we wish we were making this up), “Don’t let your birds outside; it would be hazardous to their health.”

These industrial-scale producers, with their livestock management shortcuts, are placing family-scale organic farmers at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. Some pasture-based organic farmers have already been driven out of the organic egg business.

The organic community has an opportunity to reverse this scandal and support authentic organic agriculture. The USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will be debating the meaning of outdoor access and stocking densities for organic poultry and other livestock at the upcoming meeting in Madison, Wis., October 25-28.

The NOSB’s Livestock Committee has already submitted a proposal that would require at least two square feet of outdoor space per bird—a proposal that is vehemently opposed by industrial-scale producers whose tiny porches would no longer pass as legitimate outdoor access under this new rule.

The USDA is hearing from the well-funded and organized industry lobbyists. We must ensure that they also hear from the organic community!

You can show your support for meaningful outdoor access requirements in several ways:

  • By appearing in person at the NOSB meeting in Madison and giving a five-minute oral testimony in support of strong animal welfare standards in organics.
  • If you can’t attend the meeting yourself, please sign and return a proxy letter (available here), which we will hand-deliver to the USDA at the meeting in Madison.

We must protect organics to enable family farmers to make a fair living and to keep consumers’ trust in authentic, truly organic agricultural production.

Cornucopia has just completed its latest investigation and report detailing the great divide in organic egg production between a dozen or so giant industrial-scale egg producers and the hundreds of family farmers who are following the spirit and intent of the organic regulations. The report is available for free download here.

Our website also contains a photo gallery that juxtaposes true organic egg production with industrial-scale production. Take a look at the pictures, and if you are shocked by the conditions of “organic” factory farms, please share your thoughts with the USDA and NOSB.

The message is simple: Organic chickens should have adequate indoor and outdoor space, easily accessible to every chicken in the henhouse. Organic standards need strong and clear requirements to ensure that organically raised animals can exhibit their natural behavior outdoors, without exception.

To sign a proxy letter:

Proxy letters are available here on our website. We encourage you to print, sign, and return the letter to us. Signing this proxy in ink, and adding any additional comments on the back, is much more powerful than signing any kind of online petition—stand in support of real organic farmers and make your voice heard!

Return your proxy by mail ASAP:

      The Cornucopia Institute

 

      P.O. Box 126

 

    Cornucopia, WI 54827

And please print out copies of the proxy for your family and friends to sign, or forward them in an e-mail to your contacts. You can leverage your power and voice!

To make an oral presentation at the meeting in Madison, Wis.:

Please contact The Cornucopia Institute if you are interested in appearing in person for a five-minute oral presentation at the NOSB meeting in Madison, Wis. We will send you a briefing package with detailed instructions for how to sign up, directions to the meeting, and other important information.

Please email us at cultivate@cornucopia.org (preferred), or call 608-625-2000 if you plan on attending the NOSB meeting.

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