The Real Chicken Poop
On May 19, 2014 The Country Hen, a vertically integrated egg producer based in Hubbardston, Massachusetts, wrote a letter to a customer explaining their animal husbandry and egg production practices while also attempting to discredit The Cornucopia Institute’s Egg research and Scorecard project. Here we share with you what The Country Hen said and what The Cornucopia Institute believes to be the facts. Points of clarification will be in italic.
“In their [Cornucopia Institute] pursuit to promote small family farming, they target the commercially sized operations that are able to provide the quantities of organic foods necessary to meet consumer demand and remain reasonably priced in the retail market.”
- The Cornucopia Institute looks at the enforcement of federal organic standards as “scale neutral.” We fight for economic justice for family farmers. Some family farmers operate large operations while others operate very small operations along with everything in between. If operated in compliance with the spirit and letter of the law, are all valid and important to the organic community.
- Small- and mid-scale egg producers can certainly be considered “commercially sized” operations if they earn a profit. It is not true that only large and very large egg operations are commercially viable. The Cornucopia Institute does not “target” commercial operations; rather, we hope that all farms can be profitable and operated in accordance to the law. Large corporations try to portray family-scale farms as having 20-100 chickens scratching around in the barnyard. And although some are on that small scale (producing wonderful eggs for their local community), we would not consider those commercial operations in the wholesale marketplace.
- Hundreds of smaller-scale farms can provide the same number of eggs as a handful of very large ”factory farms.” For illustration, 300 farms with 3,000 hens each (the maximum legal size in Europe for organic production) could produce over 18 million dozen eggs or the same could be said for one very large CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operation) that raises 900,000 hens in confinement. If the organic regulations were enforced, particularly the requirement for outdoor access for laying hens, then many of these very large operations would not be able to legally operate as certified organic.